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The latest update as of July 27, 2020


With the NHRA Lucas Oil Series Central Region event at Heartland Motorsports Park completed over the weekend, we've got the updated national points standings for Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car tabulated and posted below. With his win in TAD, Robin Samsel jumped back into the Top Ten for the first time in two months, moving into a four-way tie for sixth place. Samsel defeated Rachel Meyer in the final round, with a 5.356 - 268.97 pass, over the close - but not close enough - 5.439 - 262.69 for Ms. Meyer.

Rachel likewise advanced in the standings, from #8 to a tie with Joey Severance in fourth place. Her sister Megan, was upset in the first round by Christine Chambless and remained in a tie for second place in the standings. Since she already had two regional wins, which had gavin her maximum regional points, the early exit from eliminations had no bearing on her hopes for a repeat world championship. Another top ten runner, James Stevens lost a close first round match and waived his points to remain in the four-way tie for sixth place.


TAD National Points Standings - July 26, 2020

On the Funny Car side, points leader Doug Gordon won his fourth regional event (in five tries) at Topeka, to show that the BETA Motorcycles team is really on a mission in 2020. They've been national contenders for quite a few years, but never seem to have much luck in final rounds. With a new sponsor and a new Jonnie Lindberg-built car, this is looking like it could be their year.

With a runner-up finish to Gordon, Chris Foster moved into the Top Ten, pulling even with semi-finalist Bob McCosh for eighth place in the standings. First round losers in the short six-car field, Kris Hool and Bryan Brown, remained outside the top ten list and waived their points, as did McCosh and another first-round finisher, Kyle Smith.


TAFC National Points Standings - July 26, 2020

The latest update as of July 25, 2020


NHRA Lucas Oil Series - Division Five

NHRA Central Region event at Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, KS

There's a small-ish turnout of Top Alcohol cars at Topeka this weekend, with eight dragsters and just six funny cars in attendance. Some of the top runners in the classes are there however, and appear to be tuning up for next month's Menard's NHRA Heartland Nationals at the same facility. Strangely though, only one entry in each of the Top Alcohol classes appears on the NHRA entry list page: Megan Meyer in TAD and Jay Payne in TAFC.

With the shortened 2020 season, NHRA has changed the points earnings rules for Top Alcohol at both national and regional events. Racers can only earn points at their best two of five regionals, and best five of seven nationals. Since the low qualifier in Top Alcohol Dragster at Topeka this weekend, Megan Meyer, has already notched two regional wins, she can't gain any more points at this race. The same situation exists in Funny Car, as points leader Doug Gordon has three regional victories already, and has likewise maxed out his regional points.

In TAD, there will be an interesting semi-final matchup, if both Megan and Rachel Meyer advance past the first round, with the sisters meeting head-to-head. Rachel has carded one win and one first-round loss this season, and has a chance to move into a tie with her sister for second place nationally if she can get past her sibling in this round, and go on to win the race. Knowing the professionalism of the Meyer team, I'm certain there won't be any "team orders" and it will be a real race, no matter what the outcome. Other racers that could move up in the national standings are James Stevens (currently tied for fifth nationally) and Robin Samsel who sits outside the Top Ten in the #15 spot.

The Funny Car class has several nationally ranked racers other than Gordon, with Bob McCosh in tthe #8 spot in the standings, and just outside the Top Ten, Kris Hool and Bryan Brown. Hool and and McCosh meet in the first round, while Brown has the formidable task of taking on Gordon in the first round. The winner of that matchup earns a bye to the final round due to the short six-car field.

Eliminations are running this evening, and we'll have the results and the updated national points standings posted tomorrow. Check them out and refresh this page for more updates on last weekend's Funny Car Chaos event from Amarillo Dragway.


The latest update as of July 21, 2020


Amarillo Funny Car Chaos flyer --- Amarillo Funny Car Chaos banner --- Amarillo Funny Car Chaos flyer

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

With just one final chance to get into either the "A" or "B" fields at Amarillo, it was time to "put up or load up" for the 20 racers in competition. Going into the session, the bump for the "A" group was held down by Mitch Bowen at 4.457. At the bottom of the "B" field, Nick Johnson sat nervously on his Friday "best" of 6.015, knowing that a couple of real hitters, Kebin Kinsley and Lyle Greenberg, both burning nitro, were more than capable of bumping him out of eliminations.


Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile'

Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express' --- Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child'

Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- Steve Vang - 'Weekend Warrior

Blaine Cunningham - 'Animalize' --- Ray Stringer - 'Nitro Pony'

(near lane) Ray Stringer - Blown Cent-less' 
vs (far lane) Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' --- (near Lane) Fred Farndon - 'Play It Loud' 
vs (far lane) Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express'

Ray Stringer - 'Nitro Pony' --- Afterburner!

Amarillo Dragway crowd --- View from the iconic bridge at Amarillo


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Eliminations Round ONE - "A" Field


Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' --- Steve Vang - 'Weekend Warrior'

(left lane) Steve Vang - 'Weekend 
Warrior' vs (right lane) Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' ---

(near lane) Ken Poloson - High 
Risk' vs (far lane) Ray Stringer - 'Blown Centless' ---

(left lane) Chuck Loftin - 
'Motivation' vs Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' ---

(left lane) Ken Singleton - 
'High Risk' vs (right lane) Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express ---


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Eliminations Round ONE - "B" Field


Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter'

(left lane) Chris Schneider - 
'Brutus' vs (right lane) Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' ---

Fred Farndon - 'Play it Loud --- Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire'

Tod Barker - 'Back In Black' --- (left lane) Shane Blanton - 
'Bad Company' vs (right lane) Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream'


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Eliminations Round TWO


(left lane) Clay 
Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' vs (right lane) Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' ---

(left lane) Nick Poloson - 
'Bucket List' vs (right lane) Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' ---

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FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Eliminations FINAL Round


Ray Kelley - 'Game 
Xchange' jet dragster --- (near lane) Chris 
Schneider 'Brutus' vs (far lane) Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream'

(near lane) Ken 
Singleton - 'High Risk' vs (far lane) Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' --- Scoreboard (left side) 
4.566 - 124.00 (Kinsley) (right side) 3.885 - 190.12 (Singleton)


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - WINNERS Circle


Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child'

Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Dustin Bradford - American Dream

The Photographers

Other than the racers and the track crew, these were the hardest working people on the property: the photographers. Left to right, it's Wes Ramsey, Russell Brown, Tera Graves, Chris Graves, and our ever intrepid correspondent, BIG Bob Snyder.


The latest update as of July 20, 2020


It was one very busy weekend in the world of drag racing, led with the fourth (of who knows how many?) NHRA national event of 2020, the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals held at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis. As was done last weekend, Fox Sports Racing carried qualifying on a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, then the final eliminations went live on the entire FOX network on Sunday. Unfortunately, the weather ended things just before the final rounds could be run, with a major thunderstorm postponing the final rounds until the U.S. Nationals on September 5th. First time finalists will be featured in both Top Fuel and Pro Mod, in what will unfortunately be a somewhat anticlimactic ending to what was shaping up to be two very interesting and exciting finals.

On the NHRA Regional event stage, two events went off without any weather troubles, out west at Sonoma Raceway for the first Western Regional race of 2020, and in the midwest, the JEGS Sportsnationals - North Central Regional - Division Three race at Columbus, OH's venerable National Trail Raceway. The two events were headlined with the Top Alcohol cars and while there no changes at the top of the points standings, there was some definite movement below the apex. Here's the latest updated standings (and verified by a quick visit to NHRA.com) posted below. NOTE: The points in red are those not counted towards racers' totals due to them being waived.

With the truncated season due to "you-know-what", Top Alcohol racers can only count their best two races out of their first five regional events, and the best five out of seven national points. At this point, it's interesting to note that only one national event has seen the alky gang - five and a half months ago! - at the Winternationals. And the next national event currently scheduled to include the alcohol cars is the NHRA Indy Nationals in Indianapolis, running from August 6 - 9. However, the alcohol cars will only be running for regional points as the event will focus on the Pro categories for Saturday-Sunday, while the Sportsman cars - including Top Alcohol - will run on Thursday - Friday. We've not seen an event schedule yet, and the Top Alcohol cars may indeed be part of the "big show" on the weekend, but that remains to be seen.

Unless the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals is cancelled or postponed, the first true national event for Top Alky since the Winternationals will be that one, running from August 21 - 23, then followed in quick succession by the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, and the Denso Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals on the weeks following. Three nationals in three weeks for the alky cars. Hmm... that could decide the season championships before Labor Day.


TAD National Points Standings - July 20, 2020

TAFC National Points Standings - July 20, 2020

Before we sign off for this morning, we cannot forget the FUNNY CAR CHAOS crew, as they succesfully completed their fifth event of the season at Amarillo Dragway on the weekend. Scroll down the page a little to see Friday's qualifying results and pictures and stay tuned for all the reports and photos from Saturday's final qualifier and eliminations. We should receive some photos today and have it all posted by tomorrow evening.


The latest update as of July 18, 2020


Amarillo Funny Car Chaos flyer --- Amarillo Funny Car Chaos banner --- Amarillo Funny Car Chaos flyer

Here's the first batch of pictures from the latest event on the FUNNY CAR CHAOS tour, coming to you from Amarillo Dragway. We've got lots more coming early next week. Stay tuned for updates to this report as we receive them. While the FCC folks are usually pretty good at posting results on their Facebook page, they left a lot of blanks to fill in as this event unfolded. They never seem to post the results of the first qualifying session, so we've had to report numbers for Friday's two qualifying sessions that could have been run in either session.


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Qualifying Session #1


Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- Reinart & Johnson - 'Prairie 
Fire'

(LEFT) The points leader coming into this event, Oklahoma's Ken Singleton in his "High Risk" car set the pace again with a low qualifying 4.099 - 187.97 pass to lead all contenders.

(RIGHT) Not having the same luck was Nick Johnson in the Reinart & Johnson "Prairie Fire" who struggled to a 16th best effort of 6.015 - 131.43 in an on-and-off run. To say the track conditions were challenging is being charitable. More on that subject later.

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(LEFT) Cranking up the volume considerably were the first two nitro burners of the evening, with Chuck Loftin's Mustang-bodied "Motivation" sliding into the #3 position on the ladder with a safe 4.246 - 160.50 pass that set him up well for Saturday.

(RIGHT) Runner-up of the last event on the FCC circuit, and winner of the recent Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown, the Texas-based "Wild Child" of Kebin Kinsley struggled mightily to tame all that horsepower and idled down the track to a 11.196 - 53.32 to sit near the bottom of the list (#18) with just one chance left to get into Saturday evening's show.

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(LEFT) Making his FCC debut, New Mexico's Lyle Greenberg brought out the "Cone Hunter" Corvette and pedalled his way to a 6.880 - 131.29 to sit just outside the "B" field in the 17th spot going into the last qualifier.

(RIGHT) Another new recruit for the "Chaos Crew" was the Ricky Weeaks team with their brand-new Mustang-bodied "Nitro Pony" from Roswell, New Mexico. Since Ricky hadn't finished licensing, Ray Stringer hopped in the car and made a solid shakedown run for the new guys, before getting back in his own "Blown Centless" entry.

Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' --- Matt Nissen - 'Runnin' Down A Dream'

Randy Mueller - 'Crazy Randy' --- Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company'

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' vs 
Tod Barker - 'Back In Black'

Steve Vang - 'Weekend Warrior' --- Ray Stringer - 'Nitro Pony'


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - PIT Shots


Blown Centless nitro chevy motor --- Ray Stringer getting ready

Bob Snyder Michelle Stringer --- Lyle Greenberg warming up


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Amarillo Dragway - Qualifying Session #2


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(LEFT) With the air and track temps dropping, the second session at 10:00 promised some better results for everyone. Series regular Matt Nissen in his familiar "Runnin' Down A Dream" 'Vette made a solid pass of 4.721 - 149.54 to land in the middle of the "B" field in the #11 position.

(RIGHT) A perfectly replicated tribute car, the "Brutus" entry of Troxel & Schneider, with Chris Schneider driving, stopped the clocks at 4.599 - 151.48 to grab the #9 position overall, and place himself at the top of the "B" field, at least provisionally.

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(LEFT) Another regular entrant in the series, Jordan Ballew in his Nova-bodied "Ballew Thunder" struggled to get up on the tires and put a so-so 5.172 - 135.17 up on the scoreboards. It ranked #14 and left him in a somewhat precarious position going into the final qualifying session.

(RIGHT) A car that has been visiting the winners circle regularly this year (two "B" field wins in four events) is the "Weekend Warrior" of series newcomer Steve Vang and he pounded out a very good 4.431 - 159.32 to place himself well into the "A" field in the #5 position. However, the last time he ended up in the "fast" bracket, he met a very tough opponent (Ken Singleton) in the first round of eliminations and earned an early ticket home.

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(LEFT) Yet another newcomer was Mitch Bowen in the Flagstaff, Arizona-based "Northland Express" and he staked a claim to a spot in the "A" field with a very good (considering the less than optimal track conditions) 4.457 - 162.16 to sit in the #8 position. Pretty much obscured in the background was Nick Johnson in the "Prairie Fire" entry.

(RIGHT) A solid pair of "A" field runners, featuring (near lane) Shane Blanton in the "Bad Company" car against (far lane) Ray Stringer in the "Blown Centless". Stringer streaked to a 4.243 - 172.26, good for the #2 spot on the ladder, while Blanton turned a solid 4.470 - 156.30 to take the #7 spot in the field.

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(LEFT) Making his third start on the circuit, San Antonio's Randy Meuller in his "Crazy Randy" entry, started the weekend with a #13 best of 5.086 - 115.39 that showed there was still work to do on the car.

(RIGHT) Still "Back In Black" is the familiar Corvette of Tod Barker as he put down a decent 4.619 - 152.10 that placed him in the 2nd spot in the "B" field and #10 overall going into Saturday.

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(LEFT) Our final pair of cars for the night start with the Brown & Cunningham "Still Crazy" entry, driven by Clay Cunningham, enroute to a provisional spot in the "A" field at #7, with a 4.452 - 158.98 effort.

(RIGHT) Rounding out the action for the evening, the Doak & Poloson "Bucket List", driven by Nick Poloson, put down a very good 4.355 - 162.41 that left him in the middle of the "A" field in the #4 spot.

(near lane) Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-less' 
vs (far lane) Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company' --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' --- Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile'

Kebin Kinsl;ey - 'Wild Child' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' --- Nick Poloson - 'Bucket List'


Here's the qualifying order after two sessions, with the third and final qualifier scheduled for 6:00 PM on Saturday. Then it's three rounds of eliminations at 8:00, 10:00 and midnight to finish the show. Remember that the top eight qualifiers go into the "A" field, and the next eight land in the "B" field. If anyone is broken or unable to appear for the first round of eliminations, then everyone moves up the ladder one (or more) notches.


Funy Car Chaos - Amarillo Dragway - Qualifying order #2

The latest update as of July 17, 2020


Another week has flown by and the drag racing world is still moving ahead with the resumption of events in North America. This weekend sees quite a few races on tap, with the NHRA Mello Yello series putting on a race for the second week in a row at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This time around it's the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals which will feature a different lineup from last week's show. There's the Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car classes, but instead of Pro Stock (car and bike), it's Pro Mod and Top Fuel Harley for a change of pace.

STOP THE KEYBOARD - Clicking on the NHRA website to gather some info on this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, the latest news out of Glendora is headlined "Denver, Brainerd events POSTPONED, 3rd Indianapolis event added". Oh, oh. Scrolling down the page there's news about changes and cancellations to Divisional and Regional events too.

Judging by the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases in many places in the United States, these latest changes are not at all surprising. Following the court ruling (an injunction against holding large events in Colorado) last week, the Denver "postponement" seemed inevitable, but the Brainerd announcement caught many off guard. Reading deeper into the announcements gives the impression that the likelihood of the Denver and Brainerd events going ahead this year are minimal. And it's almost a certainty that there will be other races falling by the wayside as time goes on. Even the announcers on last weekend's Fox Sports One broadcast (Brian Lohnes and Tony Pedregon) admitted as much when they stated "it remains to be seen if NHRA's very ambitious 16 races in 16 weeks schedule can actually be pulled off".

At this moment there are two NHRA Divisional/Regional events in progress: the big JEG's Speedweek Division Three race at Columbus and on the west coast, the Division Seven race at Sonoma. Both races also include Top Alcohol classes, starting tomorrow, and in Sonoma's case, it will be the first west coast Top Alky racing since Pomona. Down south, at Amarillo Dragway, the FUNNY CAR CHAOS crew is set up and ready to rock Tecas tonight, with two qualifying sessions on tap for the 22 pre-entered floppers. As always, we've got BIG Bob Snyder on hand to document the action, and we may have a few shots from our newest correspondent, Dale Fackler to complement Bob's work.

Here at Northern Thunder, we've been working in the background, and have put up a bunch of photos and a full story of the NHRA Central Region event held in late June at Bandimere Speedway. Check it out on the Feature Page, and in the very near future we'll have all the event coverage that causes this page to load so slowly moved to the feature section.


The latest update as of July 10, 2020


It's been a very fast-paced week as NHRA attempts to restart the Mello Yello series, starting tomorrow at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis. The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals will be followed by next weekend's (take a deep breath) Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Indianapolis before the big show hits the road for the remaining 14 events on their current/tentative calendar for 2020. Following yesterday's court ruling in Jefferson County Colorado, the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals appears to be in serious jeopardy. Read about here Judge Decides Temporary Restraining Order Will Remain In Place At Bandimere Speedway. I'll refrain from commenting on the actions of the Bandimere ownership/management team, but I've got my doubts on the future of this year's Mile-Highs.

While the teams (Pros only at the first two events in Indianapolis) started testing at Indy yesterday, and at this moment, the race appears to be on solid footing, that could all change in very short order. We've already seen the Flav-R-Pak NHRA Northwest Nationals (scheduled for July 31 - August 2) cancelled recently, and just this week, the Lucas Oil Series Western Regional event (scheduled for the following weekend) has gone by the wayside. Restrictions on public gatherings in Washington state stopped both those events, and with COVID-19 cases climbing in quite a few states, there could be some major holes appearing in the NHRA schedule very soon.

Even this week's event at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) has seen some notable non-appearances. Most publicized has been Nitro Funny Car racer, Bob Tasca III, who's come down with COVID-19 and has tabbed Jonnie Lindberg to fill his seat for the time being. Interestingly, that move presumably led to today's announcement from NHRA concerning driver substitutions. While it can be viewed as a coronavirus initiated accomodation for very valid health reasons, the timing seems somewhat coincidental. I certainly won't criticize their move at this point, and have to believe it's being done for all the right reasons.

What may be a larger story though - and one that hasn't been publicly commented on in other drag racing media - is the non-appearance of an entire race team: John Force Racing at the two Indianapolis events. That's Brittany Force and Austin Prock in Top Fuel, and the big man himself, John Force and defending world champion Robert Hight in Funny Car. That's a very large contingent of high profile racers to be missing from the show. On a slightly lesser scale, Team Salinas, including Top Fuel's Mike Salinas and his daughters Jasmine in Top Alcohol, and Jianna in Pro Bike are staying home for the time being.

In the interest of fair reporting, there are some additions to the fields as Tony Schumacher is back in a Top Fuel car for the first time in 20 months, for at least the first two races of the resumed schedule. And coming back for another kick at the can, also in a Don Schumacher Racing car, is never-say-die Cory McClenathan. Additionally, quite a few part-time racers have stepped in to fill the vacuum created by the racers that won't be at Indy. Full fields in the four categories this weekend are a certainty, with 18 cars each in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Leading the way in field size is Pro Stock with 22 entrants, and Pro Stock Bike has 16 riders on tap.

In closing, we've got to mention that the next two weekends will see some live - or at least current - drag racing on television for the first time in more than four months. As long as you have access to Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports Racing (for qualifying) and the entire FOX network for eliminations. Here's the ad (courtesy of NHRA) for this weekend. NOTE: times shown are Eastern Daylight Time.

Tune In to the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals

That's all we've got to report at the moment. We're off to research what's happening in the other series (ADRL and MWPMS) that are also running - or trying to - this weekend. And don't forget, we've got the full report and pictures from the Bandimere Speedway NHRA Lucas Oil Series Western Region event of June 18 -20th posted in the Features section of the website.

Late additions: We almost forgot to mention about the rumours floating around "social" media concerning the Steve & Billy Torrence team. They are at Indy right now, after entering the first event at almost the last minute, but as of this writing they haven't got an entry in for next weekend's race. Presumably they will decide whether to enter after they see how this week's event goes. The John Force Racing story may not be quite as presented earlier on this page. A quick scan of future events on the re-re-re-vised NHRA schedule shows that all four team members are currently entered for Denver, Brainerd, Topeka, etc. However, those entries were filed quite a while ago and they could be withdrawn at any point before the races begin. Stay tuned for more news on that subject and anything else that comes along as we prepare to go drag racing again.



The latest update as of July 6, 2020


Following last weekend's NHRA Lucas Oil Series eastern region event at Lebanon Dragway, here are the updated national points standings for the Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car classes. We will update them every Monday whenever an event has taken place. In a "normal" (ie, non-COVID) season, the Alcohol cars would have already competed at seven national events, with an eighth one on tap for this coming weekend. Instead, they've only run at Pomona's Lucas Oil Winternationals, and the next race on their calendar is not until the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd, MN in mid-August.

On the regional front, there have been three regional events in the Eastern and Central regions, with the first North Central race scheduled for July 16-17 at Columbus, OH. Out west, the first regional event is running on the same weekend at Sonoma, CA. That race will be for racers, crews, and officials only, with NO spectators allowed. Certainly a very slow, and very different look for the alcohol racers as some will have gone more than five months without any competition opportunities within justifiable driving distances.


NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster national point standings - July 6, 2020

TAD National Points - July 6, 2020

Data courtesy of NHRA


NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car national point standings - July 6, 2020

TAFC National Points - July 6, 2020

Data courtesy of NHRA


Here's the drag racing schedule (all major sanctions) for the month of July. You can click on the smaller version below to see a larger and more easily read version.

Drag Racing Schedule - July 2020

Drag Racing Schedule - July, 2020

The latest update as of June 28, 2020


Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown

The event concluded under the lights at Xtreme Raceway Park last night with a final round for the ages. Occasional NHRA Big Show Top Fuel pilot Kebin Kinsley drove the Howard & Shane Farris-owned "War Wagon" to a jaw-dropping pass that clocked in at 3.44 - 230.77 for the win. His very worthy opponent, Frankie "Mad Man" Taylor didn't give up without a fight, as his best of the weekend 3.65 - 203 in his Xtreme Pro Mod showed that the Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered concept does work.

The pre-entry list of 24 cars (11 Fuel Altereds and 13 Pro Mods) dropped to 10 and 13 by the time qualifying started, and was whittled down to the quickest eight of each breed. While the bump spot for Pro Mod was 4.72, the Fuel Altered bubble was not that much quicker at 4.46 on the 1/8-th mile track. And the difference between the low qualifier in Pro Mod (Clyde Scott at 3.64) and Fuel Altered (Kebin Kinsley at 3.59) was very close. The 3-second zone was breached by a total of four Pro Mods and five Fuel Altereds also, showing the relative parity in the vastly different approaches to competition.

Until we've got some photos to fill in the storyline, the following report will have to suffice.... as soon as we write it. It's Sunday, the sun is out and the deck is beckoning. Hope you'll understand.


The Cliff House at Sunset Point, Spirit Bay, BC --- The Cliff House at Sunset Point, Spirit Bay, BC --- The Cliff House at Sunset Point, Spirit Bay, BC

8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - Qualifying (final session)

With just 16 spots open for eliminations, eight for Pro Mod and eight for Fuel Altered, the final qualifying session promised some intense action. With the worst atmospheric conditions of the event, running at 5:00 pm in the hot late afternoon Texas sun, just getting some of those grossly overpowered cars down the track was going to be a challenge. Factor in the need of many racers to step up their performances to just qualify for elminations added an extra degree of difficulty to the task.

With 12 of the original 13 Pro Mod entrants still running (after Dennis Hendrix's nitrous boomer Friday night), the bubble belonged to Charlotte Schmidt's 4.94 clocking from Friday. On the Fuel Altered side, Kurt Duckworth held down the bump with a 4.46 pass, and only two cars sat below him on the list. Besides the need to simply qualify, racers also had to deal with unfavourable first round matchups unless they moved up the ladder, so the pressure was definitely on.

Starting with the fuel altereds, the two racers below the bump spot, Randy Meuller and Mark Billington both failed to improve on their Friday numbers so the AA/FA field remained intact. However, there was some serious shuffling of positions within the 8-car field. While Kurt Duckworth stayed at the #8 spot in his "Complete Chaos" entry, Friday's #7 man, Keith Zimmerer jumped up two spots with a much improved 3.848 - 192.47 pass. That pushed down John Umlauf (his earlier 3.96 dropped to #6) and Clint Cross in the Cross & Meyer "Crossways", as his earlier 4.02 dropped to #7 on the final list.

In the top half of the Fuel Altered camp, Allan Middendrof left before the tree came down in the final session, and his Friday 3.692 - 217.08 held on to the #3 spot. One notch below him, Raymond Dawson in the "High Octane" car, sat on his earlier 3.819 - 189.00 to remain in the #4 spot. At the top of the field, the number one and two runners from Friday, Jody Austin in the "Bushwhacker" and Kebin Kinsley in the "War Wagon" traded places. Austin failed to improve on his Friday top qualifying 3.598 - 201.43 pass, but Kinsley laid down a very big number, with an awesome 3.561 - 222.44 lighting up the scoreboards and serving notice to the other racers that the Farris and Kinsley team was ready to rumble.

On the Pro Mod side of the pits, there was no change in the top half of the field, with only the Texas "Mad Man", the inimitable Frankie Taylor improving slightly from a Friday best of 3.738 - 197.54 to a 3.723 - 201.25 that kept him solidly in the #2 position. Sitting atop the ladder was Friday's low qualifier, and homeown hero Clyde Scott, with his 3.646 - 207.56 that left him third on the combined list, trailing only the quickest two AA/FA's.

Further down the Pro Mod list, the #8 car of Dennis Hendrix was out of commission, and his replacement on the bubble (Charlotte Schmidt) failed to hold onto her position, being bumped by Mike Labatte's much improved 4.287 - 177.44 (from his earlier "best" of 5.290 - 94.70) in the "Nightmare" Camaro. Making an even bigger move, was Friday's #12 qualifier at 5.626 - 84.94 Aaron Philpot, in his beautiful early-model Corvette, who leaped all the way to #5 with an excellent 3.936 - 190.60. That moved Rick Cate down one spot to #6 as he failed to advance on his Friday 4.024 - 180.00, and Kevin Hargett was dropped down to #7, despite picking up half a tenth to a 4.114 - 194.47 in the KBR Racing Mustang.


---

Here's a couple of shots of John Robinson's absolutely awesome turbocharged/supercharged diesel dragster. Besides doing some hellacious burnouts, the car runs well too, going into the 4.20's on the 1/8-th mile track. Just a little bonus for the spectators.


8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - Eliminations - Round One

Somewhat akin to the Funny Car Chaos dynamic, there would appear to be a great disparity between some of the competitors. With no rules, no limits, etc, you could end up with a blown alky big-block Chevy in an old chassis/body combination matched up against a late-model chassis with a nostalgia or altered body, running a dual-mag, big pump, blown fuel Hemi. Not exactly a fair match since all cars are running heads-up. The old analogy of bringing a knife to a gunfight seems apropos.

However, it's not quite as cut and dried as you might think. The big equalizer is track condition/preparation, and anyone expecting NHRA national event track prep is very definitely in the wrong place. While the tracks do their best - within reason - to provide a fair amount of traction, the simple fact is that the more power you generate, the more difficult it is to harness it. The lesser-powered cars are capable of laying down consistent - not fast, but consistent - elapsed times that can prove competitive in the long run.

One other equalizer in Funny Car Chaos racing is that two fields, an "A" (top 8 qualifiers) and a "B" (second eight qualifiers) are offered, both with a decent purse. That gives the slower cars a chance for a payday and does not automatically make them first-round "cannon fodder". However, the Showdown format matches the Pro Mods and Fuel Altereds in one 16-car field. First round pairings pit the quickest 8 cars of each breed, with the #1 Pro Mod facing the #8 Fuel Altered, and so on, with the #1 Fuel Altered facing the #8 Pro Mod. And that's where the eliminations story begins.


---

(LEFT) With all three flags proudly waving in the breeze, the national anthem signalled the beginning of the evening's entertainment.

(RIGHT) Following some serious crowd control problems on Friday night, a set of barriers were put in place to give the photographers enough room to operate. You can see the crowd was more than moderate and it was reported that spectators were lined up for a mile trying to enter the track as eliminations began.

(left lane) 
Mike Labatte - 'Nightmare' vs (right lane) Kebin Kinsley - 'War Wagon' --- Kebin 
Kinsley - 'War Wagon'

(LEFT) Eliminations kicked off with the quickest car in the show, Kebin Kinsley in the "War Wagon" (right lane) getting left on by opponent Mike Labatte in his "Nightmare" Firebird (left lane) by nearly two tenths (.008 to 1.98) but leaving him for dead by the time they passed the 60 ft clocks.

(RIGHT) Here's a closeup view of the "Wagon" as it blasts past our photographer enroute to a new low e.t. and top speed of the meet, 3.555 - 225.45 as he completely obliterated Labatte's very early shutoff 7.663 - 58.21 pass.

(left lane) 
Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man' vs (right lane) Clint Cross - 'Crossways' --- Clint Cross - 
'Crossways'

Raymond Dawson - 
'High Octane' --- Raymond Dawson - 
'High Octane'

Aaron Philpot --- Rick Cate - 
'Dangerous Toy'

Allan Middendorf - 
'American Outlaw' --- Brandon Pesz

(left lane) 
Brandon Pesz vs (right lane) John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos' --- (left lane) 
Tony Strachan - 'Texas Beast' vs (right lane) Keith Zimmerer

Keith 
Zimmerer --- (left lane) 
Clyde Scott vs (right lane) Kurt Duckworth 'Complete Chaos'

Kurt 
Duckworth 'Complete Chaos' --- (left lane) 
Jody Austin - 'Bushwhacker' vs (right lane) Kevin Hargett - 'KBR Racing'


8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - Eliminations - Round Two

After a wild, and somewhat unpredictable first round that saw five of the eight Pro Mods victorious, the pairings for the second round (the semi-final) saw three races featuring a Pro Mod against a Fuel Altered, and one all-Pro Mod race. One question you might ask at this point is: how can the second round in a 16-car field be called the semi-final. That's because, in the interst of putting on a fast-moving and entertaining show with minimal downtime, the promoters incorporated a modified Chicago-style system. That means the quickest winning Pro Mod is matched up against the quickest winning Fuel Altered for the final round and the overall event victory.


Jody Austin - 
'Bushwhakcer' --- (near lane) 
Kebin Kinsley - 'War Wagon' vs (far lane) Aaron Philpot

(near lane) 
Keith Zimmerer vs (far lane) Clyde Scott --- (near lane) 
Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man' vs (far lane) Brandon Pesz


8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - Eliminations - Final Round


(near lane) 
Kebin Kinsley - 'War Wagon' vs (far lane) Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man' --- Scoreboards - 
(left lane) Frankie Taylor 3.65 - 203.80 vs (right lane) Kebin Kinsley 3.44 - 230.77

Winners 
Circle - Kebin Kinsley - 'War Wagon' and crew - Winner --- Winners 
Circle - Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man' and crew - Runner-up



The latest update as of June 27, 2020


Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown

Here's the first installment of pictures and a bare listing of results from yesterday's two qualifying sessions at the Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown being held at Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, Texas. We've got more details to post and will bring you another big batch of pictures tomorrow following today's final qualifier and eliminations.


8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - Friday Qualifying


Charles Letteer 'Angry Bird' --- Raymond Dawson - 'High Octane'

(LEFT) Leading off our coverage of the event is Charles Letteer in his "Angry Bird" Firebird who clocked in to the #19 spot with a 5.204 - 107.40 in the first qualifying session. This picture was taken in an afternoon testing session.

(RIGHT) In the first evening qualifying session, Raymond Dawson in the "High Octane" punched out a #8 (overall) qualifying number of 3.819 - 189.00 that placed him well into the middle of the Fuel Altered field.

Kurt Duckworth - 'Complete Chaos' --- Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man'

(LEFT) Kurt Duckworth "Complete Chaos" #15 4.467 - 156.58

(RIGHT) Frankie Taylor "Mad Man" #6 3.738 - 197.54

(near lane) Jody Austin - 'Bushwhacker' vs 
(far lane) Frankie Taylor - 'Mad Man' ---

(LEFT) (near lane) Jody Austin "Bushwhacker" #1 3.598 - 201.43 vs (far lane) Frankie Taylor "Mad Man" #6 3.738 - 197.54

(RIGHT) The scoreboards - Frankie Taylor (3.738 - 197.54) (left) - Jody Austin (3.598 - 201.43) (right)

(near lane) Randy Meuller vs (far lane) 
Dennis Hendrix --- Allan Middendorf - 'American Outlaw'

(LEFT) In the near lane Randy Meuller lumbered down the track to a #18 qualifying spot at 5.156 - 130.10. After a decent opening pass of 4.514 - 156.20, Dennis Hendrix (far lane) had a major meltdown on his second try. The resulting explosion blew the hood off and put the car in the trailer for the balance of the event. NOTE: We originally reported that Hendrix ran a much better (3.720 - 121.36) time in the first session, but that was a mistake on the qualifying sheet we were provided with. Also note that some of the

(RIGHT) As expected, Allan Middendorf really laid down a number in the awesome "American Outlaw", going to the #4 position with an excellent 3.692 - 217.08 pass that saw him on the throttle all the way to the finish line.

John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos' AA/FA 564U --- Brandon Pesz - Pro Mod

(LEFT) John Umlauf "Mass Chaos" #10 3.968 - 183.22

(RIGHT) Brandon Pesz #7 3.790 - 196.42

Keith Zimmerer - AA/FA 488 ---

(LEFT) Keith Zimmerer #13 4.054 - 159.80

(RIGHT) Lighting up the night sky BIG TIME(!) is Kebin Kinsley in Howard Farris's "War Wagon" which ended the day in the #3 spot with a great 3.653 - 223.10 to close out qualifying.

Here's the qualifying sheets after Friday's two sessions. One more shot this afternoon, then it's eliminations time. Stay tuned for updates!

Qualifying List #2

Qualifying Ladder #2

Qualifying lists courtesy of Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown



The latest update as of June 26, 2020


We've recapped most of the bad news on the home page, but here's the list - as of this minute - of the latest cancellations and changes to drag racing schedules. The Flav-R-Pak NHRA Northwest Nationals have been cancelled due to the severe COVID-19 restrictions currently - and for the foreseeable future - in place in King County and Washington State. NHRA has also postponed next weekend's Lucas Oil Series Division Four event in San Antonio, TX until August 28 - 29. With an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in Texas and throughout the Southwest, we could see some more changes and/or cancellations in that part of the country over the next few weeks. We'll try to keep you updated as things develop.

Closer to home (Spirit Bay, BC, Canada) we've been hit with not only the cancellation of this year's Northwest Nationals (for the first time in 32 years), but now my home track (Mission Raceway Park) has had to make the very difficult decision to cancel what promised to be the biggest event in the track's long and storied history. NITRO By The River, scheduled for August 7 - 9 has officially been called off. With a pre-entry list of nearly 40 nitro-fueled vehicles (two and four-wheel variety) it was going to be a race remembered for many years. There's no word at this time as to whether it will be attempted again in 2021.

Now for some good news: the 8th annual Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown is underway at Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, TX. Despite shutdowns of many events, venues, and businesses happening today in that state, the race is still going ahead and our fearless photographer, BIG Bob Snyder, is on hand to capture all the images of a truly unique event. It's an offshoot of Funny Car Chaos with the stated intent of NO Rules! Heads-Up! Run Whatcha Brung! .... and hope ya brought enough! Simple enough for anyone to understand, and guaranteed to be as wild as it sounds. We'll have pictures and reports tomorrow, but will try to update this page with at least some qualifying results later tonight. STAY TUNED!

The following picture pretty much sums up the flavour of this event, as Allan Middendorf is bringing his awesome "American Outlaw" AA/Fuel Altered to this race for the first time. If Allan and tuner Jake Sanders can keep the car together long enough to reach the finish line... WATCH OUT! All we'd need to complete the picture of total insanity are the '37 Chevy "Pro Mod" of Terry Haddock, and the '52 Studebaker of Scott Palmer. And of course there is already in attendance the "Mad Man" entry of Texas's own Frankie Taylor to add to the craziness.

Allan Middendorf - 'American 
Outlaw'

Photo courtesy of Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown - all rights reserved by copyright holder



The latest update as of June 24, 2020


This website started as the personal blog for my Northern Thunder Top Alcohol Dragster over twenty years ago. Back then, in 1998, we tried to focus on all blown and/or injected race cars, with Top Alcohol as the main focus. Over the years, that's shifted to covering more classes, including Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Mod. While we haven't attended an NHRA national event, or even a regional race, for several years, we've been blessed with contributions by Bob Snyder as he follows racing in the SouthWest U.S., with a particular emphasis on the Funny Car Chaos gang and Outlaw Fuel Altereds and Pro Mods.

Even though there hasn't been a prominent place for Top Alcohol on these pages on a regular basis, we are still following the class(es) closely, and now that we've got some extra time on our hands (due to you-know-what), it's a good time to take a closer look at what's happening in the class. Today we've got the current points standings in Top Alcohol Dragster and we will be updating them on a weekly basis (when we get back to races every week) throughout the season. The following paragraphs lay out the structure for the championship chase as it differs greatly from recent years.

Here's the breakdown on just how points will be earned towards the National/World Championship in 2020. While I was familiar with the revised points structure for this year (they were released more than a month ago), it took a bit of digging to find the details. In fact, I had to resort to my most trusted source of statistics and hard news on the net, Drag Race Central. And when it comes to the schedule for NHRA Lucas Oil Series Regional and Divisional events, the updates are still not readily available on the NHRA website. Here is the official announcemtn from the NHRA on the revised points earning structure.

Due to the abbreviated season, the championship structure for national, regional, and divisional points has been adjusted.

Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car

Alcohol National Championship - best 2 of 5 regional and best 5 of 7 national events

Alcohol Regional Championship - best 4 of 5 regional events. No home regional event minimum requirement.

Instead of what has been the standard for more than a decade: best 3 of 5 regional events, and best 7 of 10 national events, they've shrunk the numbers down to those listed above. There will be a total of 12 national events with Top Alcohol participation this season, and nearly as many as regionals as usual, down slightly to 25 with the closing of Norwalk and Chicago for the season. With fewer events being offered, and fewer chances to earn points, racers will have to plan their season carefully so as not to run out of points earning opportunities too soon.

After a quick start to the season, with one national (Winternationals) and two regionals (Belle Rose & Gainesville) in the books, everything came to a very sudden halt at the Gatornationals. The pro and pro sportsman racers were sent home and sportsman eliminations were run off in front of empty grandstands. And that was it for NHRA drag racing for ten weeks. Racing began again in late May at the Texas Motorplex with the NHRA Regional Lonestar Nationals in front of a very limited number of spectators. That event was followed four weeks later with races last weekend at Bandimere Speedway and New England Dragway.

The month of July will see four more regional events - but no national events - until the very end of the month at Seattle's Pacific Raceways with the Flav-R-Pak NHRA Northwest Nationals beginning on July 31st. From there on, the pace picks up considerably, with six events (two national and four regional) for Top Alcohol in August. That's followed with seven (and possibly eight) races in September, consisting of four national and three regional. And if the "in-limbo" Woodburn, Oregon West Regional is slotted in to the month, as expected, then it will be four national and four regional for September.

Going into the final six weeks of the season (October and the first half of November), there are two regionals to start October, then three consecutive weekends of national events, followed by, presumably, the still postponed Las Vegas West Regional event in early November, before the grand finale at Pomona on November 15th. In fact, starting with the July 16-19 weekend, there will be a minimum of one race every weekend until the season's conclusion. In all, it adds up to 12 (and possibly 14) regional events, and 11 national events for Top Alcohol in the space of 17 weeks.

At this point, it's quite possible that world events will force even more changes to the schedule(s) and spectator attendance will be limited to begin with, and may stay that way throughout the season. Whether that scenario is sustainable for the NHRA, the racers, the sponsors, and spectators, remains a very large question. I'm certainly not in a position to pontificate on the subject, but with COVID-19 seeming to be on the rise again in many parts of the United States, it's going to be a monumental achievement if we see the entire schedule, as currently written, completed. As we write on an almost daily basis here at Northern Thunder.... Stay Tuned!

Until we've got more news, or updated event and points totals results, here's the latest numbers for the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster championship in 2020. The next update will be in two weeks, following the Lebanon, NY Eastern Regional event.

TAD National Points - June 23, 2020

The latest update as of June 21, 2020




Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Saturday Final Qualifying Session


With only 16 cars in the pits and two 8-car fields, everyone was guaranteed at least a first round runner-up... if they could make it to the starting line for the opening round of eliminations. Breakage has plagued several Funny Car Chaos events recently and this race was no exception as several cars failed to appear for the late afternoon last-ditch qualifier. As so often happens in this third qualifier, a number of racers were expected to step up over their Friday performances, and they certainly did.


Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

(LEFT) Leading off the round was Steve Vang in his familiar "Wicked Weekend Warrior" but he failed to improve on his previous best of 4.624 - 150.50 and consequently fell from #9 (top of the "B" field), to #11 on the list, and a tougher first-round of eliminations matchup.

(RIGHT) Despite being at the top of the ladder, Ken Singleton in his "High Risk" entry faced an extra challenge, not only trying to retain his #1 qualifying position, but fight off all comers to retain the $200 bounty placed on him. He didn't up the ante and stayed in what might become a precarious position at the top of the board.

Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' --- Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven'

(LEFT) Trying to stay in the "A" field, Dustin Bradford in the "American Dram" improved slightly from a Friday 4.482 - 159.01 to a 4.428 - 158.54 pass, that kept him in the #6 position temporarily. However, when the smoke cleared at the end of the round, he'd fallen three notches down to #9 and top of the "B" field. That was probably a better outcome as it gave him lane choice going into the first round of eliminations, and a much easier opponent.

(RIGHT) Following his so-so pass on Friday, Keith Jackson in the Colorado-based "High Heaven" Camaro, stepped up from an early shutoff 4.708 - 118.93, to a much better 4.169 - 181.60. That moved him up from #11 overall to #5 and the middle of the "A" field.

Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) No movement upward for the Troxel & Schneider team, as Chris Schneider stayed with his previous 4.519 - 156.47 clocking in the "Brutus" entry and fell two spots from the bottom of the "A" field to #2 in the "B" field. A smart tactical move or just good luck?

(RIGHT) Not content with his previous day's 4.095 - 162.51 time that placed him #2 on the board, Chuck Loftin pushed the "Motivation" Mustang to a better 3.944 - 192.06 that saw him drop one spot to #3 in the "A" field.

Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' --- Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child'

Two shots (burnout and launch) of Kebin Kinsley's hard running "Wild Child" Mustang as he tried to greatly improve his chances over Friday's mediocre 4.476 - 116.61 early shutoff pass that left him near the bottom of the "A" field. He let it all hang out, clocking a provisional low e.t. and top speed of the meet at a booming 3.744 - 209.69 to let everyone know that he was going to be very tough to beat in eliminations.

Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company' BUG --- Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company'

Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire'



Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Saturday Eliminations - Round One


Penwell Knights Raceway --- National anthem Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' --- Nick Poloson - 'Bucket List' Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-Less' --- Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' --- Fred Farndon - 'Play It Loud' Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' --- Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior' Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' Damon Kuhn - 'Passin' Gas' --- Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company' --- Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire'

Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Saturday Eliminations - Round Two


(near lane) John Robinson - 'Diesel Dragster' 
vs (far lane) Ray Kelley - 'Game Xchange --- Dirty South Gassers (near lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' vs 
(far lane) Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- (near lane) Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child' vs 
(far lane) Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-Less' (near lane) Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend 
Warrior' vs (far lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- (near lane) Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' vs 
(far lane) Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' John Robinson - 'Diesel Dragster' --- (near lane) John Robinson - 'Diesel Dragster' 
vs (far lane) Ray Kelley - 'Game Xchange

Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Saturday Eliminations - FINALS


(near lane) Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' vs 
Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior' --- (near lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) Leading off the final round were the "B" field finalists, and it was Steve Vang (far lane) in his "Wicked Weekend Warrior" taking the win with a solid 4.394 - 161.12 pass over the Reinart & Johnson "Prairie Fire", driven by Nick Johnson, who trailed with a 4.574 - 151.57 clocking. Vang left first by eight hundredths, and padded his lead all the way down to the finish line.

(RIGHT) To bring the fourth event on the FUNNY CAR CHAOS shcedule to a close, we had the "A" field finalist, Chuck Loftin speeding into the night in his "Motivation" Mustang to a winning time of 3.830 - 195.14. Not shown - because he was back in the pits with a broken rearend - was the other finalist, Kebin Kinsley and his "Wild Child" Mustang. A rather anticlimatic ending to what was otherwise a great show.



The latest update as of June 20, 2020




Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Friday qualifying - Session One

Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-Less' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

(LEFT) Making his season debut in the "Blown Cent-Less" car, New Mexico's Ray Stringer jumped right into contention with a #3 qualifying spot in the "A" field, courtesy of a strong 4.168 - 178.50 pass.

(RIGHT Continuing his string of dominating runs in 2020, Funny Car Chaos points leader Ken Singleton in the "high Risk" car, clocked another low qualifying number with the only 3-second pass on Friday, a very strong 3.845 - 199.29 to cover the field by more than two tenths of a second. Without Terry Haddock to contend with, it looks like the only way he can lose is if he overpowers the track, or has a very late - or too early light. Or, as he did last week in San Antonio, cross the centerline to give away the win.

Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior' --- Fred Farndon - 'Play It Loud'

(LEFT) After a great start to the season with a win in the "B" field at the season opener at Pine Valley Raceway, Steve Vang's fortunes have diminished considerably with a first round loss at last week's event in San Antonio. At that race he pushed hard on the pedal in his "Wicked Weekend Warrior", and ended up in the #7 spot in the "A" field, and an early exit. On Friday at this race he's sitting at the top of the "B" field with a 4.624 - 150.50 and is looking for a better finish in today's eliminations.

(RIGHT) Making his season debut on the Funny Car Chaos circuit, Oklahoma's Fred Farndon punched out a decent 4.387 - 166.98 in his "Play It LOUD" entry. That was good enough for #5 overall and a spot in the "A" field after the second session of qualifying.

Damon Kuhn - 'Passin' Gas' --- Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child'

(LEFT Still trying to work out the bugs in his "Passin' Gas" entry, Damon Kuhn limped his way to a bottom of the field (#16) spot with a sub-par 6.415 - 98.86 clocking. He's still got one more chance today to solidify a spot in the "B" field.

(RIGHT Making his presence felt right away, Kebin Kinsley launched hard in the nitro burning "Wild Child" Mustang, but shutoff early to a 4.476 - 116.16 pass, putting him in the #7 position on the ladder after the first two qualifying sessions.


Funny Car Chaos - Penwell Knights Raceway - Friday qualifying - Session Two


Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- (near lane) Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' 
vs (far lane) Randy Meuller - 'Crazy Randy'

(LEFT) Action continued with the second session under the lights and first our of the lanes was Ken Singleton in the "High Risk" car. To make things interesting, a $200 bounty has been posted for anyone who can beat him in eliminations tonight. And if the bounty isn't claimed, Singleton gets the money. Quite an incentive all-round. At the end of the evening, Singleton still sat atop the ladder in the #1 position.

(RIGHT) A pair of cars that ended up near the bottom of the list came up next, with Jordan Ballew in the familiar "Ballew Thunder" (near lane) putting down a mediocre 5.005 - 138.25, "good" enough for the #14 position, and in the far lane, Randy Meuller in the "Crazy Randy" entry carded an even worse 6.100 - 119.21 for the #15 spot.

(far lane) Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-Less'  
vs (near lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' --- Chris Schneider - 'Brutus'

(LEFT) In a great side-by-side matchup, Chuck Loftin in the near lane, made a great pass in his blown fueld "Motivation" Mustang, ringing up a 4.095 - 162.51 for the #2 spot behind Ken Singleton. In the far lane, Ray Stringer nearly kept pace in his "Blown Cent-Less" blown alky car, with a 4.168 - 178.50 for the #3 spot.

(RIGHT) Filling the last spot in the "A" field, Chris Schnedier pushed the Troxel & Schneider "Brutus" to a to hold down the #8 spot on the ladder.

(near lane) Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' 
vs (far lane) Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' --- (near lane) Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' 
vs (far lane) Shane Blanton - 'Bad Company'

(LEFT) After a so-so weekend at San Antonio, Dustin Bradford got off to a good start with a decent 4.448 - 159.01 in the family's American Dream" Challenger, taking the #6 spot on the ladder, well into the "A" field.

(RIGHT) This side-by-side pairing saw both cars end up near the bottom of the ladder, with (near lane) Jeff Cameron in the "Magnolia Missile" putting down a 4.726 - 148.08 for the #12 spot, and Shane Blanton in the "Bad Company" car one spot lower at #13, courtesy of a 4.780 - 146.48 timeslip.

Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' --- Kebin Kinsley - 'Wild Child'

(LEFT) No off-road excrursions for the Colorado-based "High Heaven" team this weekend, as pilot Keith Jackson got the Camaro stopped without incident at the end of his 4.708 - 117.83 pass, that left him well short of the "A" field at #11 after the first two sessions.

(RIGHT A grat example of a pan-blur shot captures Kebin Kinsley launching with the flames up in his "Wild Child". At the end of the session, he sat in the #7 spot in the "A" field going into today's final qualifying session.

Starting Line Scarecrow

This picture is a little out of the ordinary, but having a "stick man" built out of scrap metal seems an appropriate good luck icon for the Penwell Knights starting line.



The latest update as of June 14, 2020




Funny Car Chaos - Alamo City Motorplex - Saturday Eliminations - "A" Field - Round One

(left lane) 
Nick Poloson - (right lane) Chuck Loftin --- Ronny Young 
'Blue Max'

(LEFT) Not quite in sync on their starting routine, on the left side of the picture we've got Nick Poloson in the "Bucket List" with the body still up, while on the right side, Chuck Loftin is well into his burnout procedure in the "Motivation" Mustang. It didn't make any difference to the final result though as Poloson took the winlight and upset the higher qualified (#4 vs #5) Loftin.

(RIGHT) Slowing down in the late afternoon sun, the iconic "Blue Max", driven by Ronny Young, also managed to pull off an upset, as he took out #3 qualifier Johnathan Johnson, and advanced to the semi-finals.

(left lane) Steve 
Vang vs (right lane)  Ken Singleton ---

(LEFT) Trying to play giant-killer, Steve Vang in the left lane in his "Wicked Weekend Warrior" took on the #2 qualifier, and series points leader Ken Singleton (right lane) in his hard-running "High Risk" car. We haven't got the numbers to report, but we do know that Singleton took the win and advanced to the semi-finals.

(RIGHT) Here's photographic proof of the winning "High Risk" car slowing with the chutes out, as Steve Vang's mount trails in the background.


Funny Car Chaos - Alamo City Motorplex - Saturday Eliminations - Round Two (semi-finals)

(near lane) Ken Singleton 
vs (far lane) Ronny Young --- (near lane) Terry Haddock 
vs (far lane) Nick Poloson

(LEFT) In the first pair of the second round, Ken Singleton in the "High Risk" (near lane) left first by almost a tenth on Ronny Young in the "Blue Max" (far lane) and increased the margin as they sped to the finish line. Despite a great 3.803 - 201.52 time for Young, it was covered by an even better 3.731 - 213.78 by Singleton. The MPH for Singleton must have been a career best too.

(RIGHT) Here's a little test: can you tell which car is burning NITRO? If not, then you must be blind! In the near lane, it's Terry Haddock in the "Strutmasters" car putting out some serious big show-style flames enroute to yet another new Funny Car Chaos E.T. record of 3.532, coupled with an "early" shutoff of "only" 216.24 mph. In the far lane, Nick Poloson made a valiant attempt to keep up with a quicker leaving (.082 to .112) launch, but his very good 3.826 - 191.16 just couldn't keep pace with Haddock's big-time pass.

(near lane) Clay 
Cunningham vs (far lane) Jordan Ballew --- (near lane) Jeff 
Cameron vs (far lane) Dustin Bradford

(LEFT) The first pairing of the "B" field semi-finals matched low qualifier Clay Cunningham in the near lane in the "Still Crazy" against Jordan Ballew (far lane) in the "Ballew Thunder". Ballew left first with the best reaction time of the event, an .020, but his tenth of a second advantage at the green wasn't enough to keep his 4.899 - 141.33 pass ahead of Cunningham's much quicker 4.503 - 136.16 clocking.

(RIGHT) Filling the other spot in the "B" field final was Jeff Cameron (near lane) as his 4.565 - 151.11 put the "Magnolia Missile" far in front of an early shutoff 5.480 - 106.84 effort from Dustin Bradford in the family's "American Dream" Challenger. Cameron's e.t. wasn't enough to gain lane choice over Clay Cunningham for the final round though.


Funny Car Chaos - Alamo City Motorplex - Saturday Eliminations - Final Round

(near lane) Clay 
Cunningham vs (far lane) Jeff Cameron --- (near lane) Terry 
Haddock vs (far lane) Ken Singleton

(LEFT) In keeping with tradition, the "B" field led off the finals. In the near lane, Clay Cunningham pulled out the big win over (diffcult to see in the far lane) Jeff Cameron to move into the #6 spot (from way down in #13) in the FCC points standings, while Cameron's runner-up performance moved him from #8 to #5 on the list.

(RIGHT) Then it was time for the big finale to the event, with Terry Haddock in the near lane, favoured to blow away the far lane's Ken Singleton with possibly another record setting e.t. and/or mph blast. However, it wasn't to be as Singleton pulled off the big upset in what was a very close and exciting race for the fans. And a great finish to the third (of eight) events on the Funny Car Chaos 2020 calendar.

(left lane) Ken 
Singleton - 3.72 - 206.33 vs (right lane) Terry Haddock - 3.75 - 184.50

We don't have the full details, like e.t.'s to the thousandth, or reaction times, but after making three incredibly quick and fast runs, Terry Haddock's bubble burst - but only slightly - in the final as he shut off early to a 3.75 - 184.50 time. Taking the win and stretching his points lead was Ken Singleton with a great 3.72 - 206.33 winning number on the scoreboard. His string of 3.71, 3.73 and 3.72 passes showed power and consistency which led to a very well-deserved win. Haddock's first - but hopefully not last - appearance on the FCC circuit left him in the #14 position in the points.


The latest update as of June 13, 2020



It's race day in San Antonio as FUNNY CAR CHAOS is in the house at Alamo City Motorplex for the third stop on their 2020 schedule. Our hard working correspondent, BIG Bob Snyder, is on site and has sent along pictures from Friday night's two (of three) qualifying sessions. Late in the evening, NHRA big show fuel coupe racer, Terry Haddock brought the house down with a record-vaporizing 3.545 - 234.74 pass that obliterated the previous FCC marks. That record was set last year at North Star Dragway by Allan Middendorf in his awesome American Outlaw, but Haddock's performance moved the bar to a very high level, especially in the mile per hour department. The big question in my mind is "can he do it three times in a row this evening?".

After a 26-car turnout at the previous event, it was disappointing to see just 17 cars in the pits for the Alamo City event. At least there's enough cars to fill both (A & B) fields.... as long as the breakage bug that plauged the Eddyville race doesn't take its toll on the machincery. If you were keeping score, there were SIX broken cars after qualifying finished at that race.

Terry Haddock- 'Haddock Racing' --- Terry Haddock scoreboard

Here's the launch and the results from Terry Haddock's second qualifying session run. We'll have more photos and details posted from Friday night as soon as we can. Then stay tuned tomorrow for all the results from eliminations.

Funny Car Chaos - Alamo City Motorplex - Friday Qualifying Session One

Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' --- Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior'

(LEFT) One of the first cars out of the lanes was Magnolia, TX native Jeff Cameron in the Dooley & Sons-sponsored "Magnolia Missile" and the results were similar to his Eddyville outing (two weeks ago), with a middle of the pack 4.631 - 152.23 that put him #10 on the overall list.

(RIGHT) Hoping to parlay his success at the last race into a round winning pattern, Steve Vang wheeled his "Wicked Weekend Warrior" into the #7 spot on the ladder with a solid 4.235 - 168.04 pass. However, instead of being one of the bigger dogs in the "B" field, he's possibly looking at a very tough "date" in the first round of the "A" field.

Nick Poloson - 'Bucket List' --- Johnathan Johnson

(LEFT) After skipping the last event (Eddyville, IA), and having a terrible time at the season opener (Lufkin, TX), Nick Poloson was looking for redemption at Alamo City Raceway and pounded out a very good 3.856 - 198.59 to slot solidly into the "A" field in the #5 spot.

(RIGHT) Literally coming out of nowhere, series newcomer Johnathan Johnson jumped right into the thick of it, cranking out some good numbers on his first attempts at Funny Car Chaos competition.

Robert Slaughter - 'Smokey Bear'

Friday wasn't a good start to the weekend for Robert Slaughter as he failed to get his "Smokey Bear" Corvette to the finish line under power, clocking a "best" of 8.590 - 55.60 to leave him at the bottom of the "B" field heading into Saturday's final qualifying session.


Funny Car Chaos - Alamo City Motorplex - Friday Qualifying Session Two

Damon Kuhn - 'Passin' Gas' --- (near lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' (far lane) 
Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder'

(LEFT) It wasn't a stellar start to the event for Damon Kuhn in his "Passin' Gas", as a best for the day of 5.988 - 124.55 left him near the bottom of the "B" field in the #15 spot overall. However, with just 17 cars in the pits, he was almost assured of at least one round of racing on Saturday night.

(RIGHT) In a side-by-side matchup we've got (near lane) Chris Schneider in the "Brutus" Mustang hitting a decent 4.388 - 161.52 to sit at the bottom of the "A" field, while in the far lane, Jordan Ballew laid down a 4.994 - 139.15 in his "Ballew Thunder" to land in the middle of the "B" field; provisionally of course.

(near lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' 
(far lane) Tod Barker - 'Back In Black' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

(LEFT) Cranking up the noise a bit in the near lane, Chuck Loftin pushed his blown fuel "Motivation" Mustang to an excellent 3.819 - 194.47 that was good for #4 on the grid, while (barely visible) in the far lane, Tod Barker motored the "Back In Black" Corvette to an early shutoff 4.641 - 122.45 pass that put him in the middle of the "B" field.

(RIGHT) Showing that a blown alky car can outrun a nitro car, Ken Singleton cranked out one of his best licks over in the "High Risk" car, stopping the clocks at 3.713 - 204.92 that temporarily - read on to find out the whole story - take the low qualifier spot.

(near lane) Ronny Young - 'Blue Max' (far lane) 
Johnathan Johnson --- Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy'

(LEFT) In the (near lane) Ronny Young in one of the best tribute cars around, the fabled "Blue Max", hit a very strong 3.887 - 193.47 pass to move into the #6 spot in what was shaping up to be a very tough "A" field. In the far lane Johnathan Johnson broke into the 3.70's on this pass, with a great 3.757 - 202.34, good for the #3 spot and lane choice in the first round of "A" field eliminations.

(RIGHT) Not getting the result he was looking for, Clay Cunningham in the "Still Crazy" could only put down an early shutoff 4.537 - 131.31 that left him just outside the "A" field (#9 overall) heading into Saturday afternoon's last-ditch qualifying session.

Terry Haddock - 'Haddock Racing' --- Terry Haddock - 'Haddock Racing'

Making his Funny Car Chaos debut, Terry Haddock in his Strutmasters-backed "Haddock Racing" entry, absolutely bombed the FCC record book with an awesome 3.545 - 234.74 that rewrote both the e.t. and mph marks, and bumped Ken Singleton out of the top spot on the ladder. With his big-show experience (20+ years on the NHRA national event tour), it was almost like bringing a gun to a knife fight. However, with less than NHRA national event track preparation and conditions, too much power can be as much a detriment as not enough when it comes to FCC racing.

Randy Meuller --- Ray Kelly - 'Game Xchange'

(LEFT) A prominent no-show from the pre-entry list was Mark Billington with his "Sons of Thunder" entry, but a replacement was found in the person of newcomer Randy Mueller in his hastily converted Altered, with an as yet un-repainted body. He managed to get it down the track to the tune of 5.461 - 125.98 to hold down the #14 spot and almost guarantee him a spot in the first-round of eliminations.

(RIGHT) Finishing up the evening with the always entertaining flame-belching show was Ray Kelly in his "Game Xchange" Jet Dragster.


The latest update as of June 10, 2020


With all the cancellations, postponements, and rescheduling of events throughout the world of drag racing, we've put together a spreadsheet to track all the changes. Here's the first six months of the year, and tomorrow we'll put up the balance of the year. As it's still a work in progress, we'll keep track of changes as they happen, as the current schedules for the various racing associations are really not set in stone at this point. Even as the world at large is starting to reopen in stages, COVID-19 is far from finished it's horrible global rampage, and we may yet see restrictions on gatherings re-imposed in some locales.

With careful planning and cooperation from everyone involved, reduced numbers of spectators may safely be accomodated at upcoming races, but if the infection rates rebound, then we may have to return to square one and see motorsport, and all sports or large gatherings, put on hold. Let's hope not, but at the same time, let's be prepared to not give the virus a chance to gain strength again.

We've been trying to keep track of all the changes to this year's drag racing schedules, and we've got a work-in-progress spreadsheet showing the current situation for the various sanctioning bodies. Click on the link to download the pdf file 2020 Drag Racing Schedule - revised as of June 12.



The latest update as of June 10, 2020


"BIG" Bob Snyder's next road trip

FCC San Antonio --- FCC Odessa --- Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered Showdown

Despite battling some health issues over the past year, it appears that Bob is ready to battle the highways as he embarks today on a 19-day circuit of drag racing events in the Southwest U.S. This weekend he's attending the FUNNY CAR CHAOS event at San Antonio, TX's Alamo City Raceway as he kicks off the three week trip. Next weekend it's another FCC event in Odessa, TX at Penwell Knights Raceway and then he hits the highlight of the trip. It's the 8th annual "Extravaganza of Insanity" (my working title for this race). The only... the only... Pro Mod -vs- Fuel Altered Showdown at Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, TX.

The Pro Mod vs Fuel Altered event is an offshoot of promoter/photographer extraordinaire Chris Graves burgeoning Funny Car Chaos circuit, as he picked up, and eventually ran with, an event idea that was first tried at Lone Star Raceway in 2002. Pitting outlaw Pro Mods against similarly unconstrained by any rules, Fuel Altereds, in a no-holds-barred showdown of drag racing at it's wildest. Fittingly, the first winner of the event was (who else?) Frankie "The Mad Man" Taylor, who defeated fellow Texan Mitch King, driving a full-on blown fuel 23-T roadster (engine out of King's IHRA Top Fuel car).

After two years of running the annual showdown, the promotion lay dormant for a decade until Graves resurrected it in 2013, at North Star Dragway, where it remained until moving to Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, TX. This year's event already has 25 pre-entries - 13 Fuel Altereds and 12 Pro Mods - and the list includes most of the heavy hitters in the respective classes, including the inaugural champion, "The Mad Man" himself. The rules are very simple, as in virtually no rules outside of the obvious safety requirements. We can't wait to see Mr. Snyder's report on this event, but first, he's got to make it through back-to-back weekends of Funny Car Chaos.

This week the FCC gang pulls into Alamo City Raceway with a full field of floppers guaranteed to be in the pits, including a number of cars that missed at least one of the first two events on the 2020 calendar. Pre-entries as of this morning are at 17 for Alamo City and 21 for next weekend's race at Penwell Knights. And as stated above, there's already 25 cars pre-entered for the "PM vs FA Showdown.

We've run out of time to post the 2020 drag racing calendar today, but it will be up very soon, along with more news on what's happening in the world of drag racing. Stay tuned!


The latest update as of June 4, 2020


FCC Eddyville Header

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Eddyville Raceway Park - Saturday Qualifying - Session Three (FINAL)

It looks like "Chute Shot Saturday" as Bob Snyder trekked down to the deep end of the Eddyville track (at least it's only an 1/8-th mile race distance) for some different angles of the cars as they slowed down after making their final qualifying passes. As Bob has found out over the years, some of the best shots are to be found at this end of the track. Some racers decided against making the final session, preferring to save their equipment for eliminations. However, quite a few teams were looking to either get into the "A" (top 8 cars) or "B" (next 8 cars) fields or gain lane choice for the first round of eliminations. Funny Car Chaos uses a standard pro pairing system; ie. 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, and 4 vs 5.

Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' --- Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior'

(LEFT) Sitting near the top of the "B" field, Magnolia, TX racer Jeff Cameron in the aptly named "Magnolia Missile" missed his chance to improve his position and fell one spot from #2 to #3 in the "B" field, thanks to three broken cars ahead of him on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Starting the year on the right note by winning the season opener in the "B" field at Pine Valley Raceway, Steve Vang wanted to move up in the "B" field also. He did that - barely - in his "Wicked Weekend Warrior", improving from a Friday best of 4.491 to a 4.459 - 156.41 but fell four spots from #12 to #16 overall. Again, thanks to the broken cars ahead of him, he ended up #5 in the "B" field.

Jim Chase - 'Wicked Quick' --- John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos'

(LEFT) The biggest improver on the property was North Dakota's Jim Chase and after a tough day Friday (a "best" of 6.796 - 75.77), that left him well outside either field, he jumped to the #2 position overall with a tremendous 3.823 - 191.57 to show that his "Wicked Quick" '57 Chevy was just that.

(RIGHT) Slowly creeping up on the tuneup, John Umlauf bettered his previous clocking of 4.383 - 125.73, with a marginally better 4.346 - 131.35 pass in the "Mass Chaos". He was already solidly in the "B" field in the #9 spot on the list, but fell back to #10, putting him #2 in the "B" field.

Chris Foster - 'Everybody's Nightmare' --- Chris Foster broken spindle --- Matt Nissen - 'Runnin' Down A Dream'

(LEFT) Looking to improve on his second qualifying position in the "A" field and move to the head of the class, NHRA hitter Chris Foster failed to advance on his Friday best of 4.118 - 174.89 and his "Everybody's Nightmare" became a personal one as the team found a broken spindle in the rear end when they returned to the pits, as you can see in the accompanying photo.

(RIGHT) Taking one step forward and four steps back was Matt Nissen as he picked up seven hundredths in e.t. (from 4.491 to 4.427), but dropped from #11 to #15 on the ladder. Again, with three cars broken, Nissen kept his "Runnin' Down a Dream" solidly in the middle of the "B" field for eliminations.

(left) Justin Herbst - 'Scorpion' - (right) 
Nick Johnson 'Prairie Fire' --- Justin Herbst - 'Scorpion'

(LEFT) Two cars coming to a stop at the far end featured Justin Herbst in the "Scorpion" on the left side, and Nick Johnson in the Reinart and Johnson "Prairie Fire" on the right. Johnson managed to pick up a bunch of e.t., moving from #20 at 6.365 to a much improved 4.666 - 154.59 that only moved him up one notch to #19 on the list. With the broken cars subtracted, it put him on the bubble in the "B" field and a first round date with the #1 car (Chris Schneider).

(RIGHT) If you're not moving forward, then you're going backward, summed up Justin Herbst's last attempt to get into the "B" field, as he dropped from #18 (and out of the show) to #20 (and further out of the show). Even though the old "break rule" came into play, he still sat one spot out of the "B" show and was relegated to the pits for the first rounds of eliminations.

Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) Already sitting at the top of the "A" field with low e.t. and top speed of qualifying at 3.759 - 204.82, it wasn't necessary for Ken Singleton to risk any damage to his "High Risk" entry but he still put in an appearance for the fans.

(RIGHT) In the other lane, Chcuk Loftin needed to find some extra "Motivation" to get into the "A" field with his Mustang-bodied nitro burner. And he found it, catapulting from #14 to #5 on the final qualifying sheet with a much-improved 3.936 - 190.68 pass. Coupled with Chris Foster's withdrawal from the field, it put him #4 in the "A" field and gave him lane choice in the first round.

Steve Timsozyk - 'Detroit Tiger' --- Steve Timsozyk - 'Detroit Tiger' tiretracks --- Chris Schneider - 'Brutus'

(LEFT) Looks like we've got a problem here as Steve Timsozyk is trying very hard to stop the "Detroit Tiger" without the aid of a parachute or two. You'll note a pair of dark tire tracks behind the car and the rear tires off the track as he nears the end of the braking area at a decent rate of speed.

(CENTER) Here's a better view of the tire tracks that he left, starting soon after the finish line, and continuing until he came to a stop at the deepest end of the deep end. No damage to car or driver and the problem was solved before eliminations.

(RIGHT) Meanwhile, in the other lane, Chris Schneider wasn't experiencing as much excitement as he slowed the Mustang-bodied "Brutus" to an uneventful stop.

Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey' --- Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven'

(LEFT) Already safely in the "A" field, Robbie Massey took one more shot in the "Moats & Massey" car but failed to advance on his Friday clocking of 4.137 - 135.62. Even though he dropped two spots on the ladder, from #7 to #9, after the math was done, he sat #6 in the "A" field.

(RIGHT) The hard luck story of the weekend - after his no-chutes excursion into the cornfield on Friday - turned brighter as Keith Jackson kept the hastily repaired "High Heaven" beauty in the number seven spot in the "A" field, with a chance to go rounds in eliminations. Certainly a brighter prospect than they were facing 24 hours earlier.

Jeff Gardemann - 'Weapon 1' --- Jeff Gardemann - 'Weapon 1'

John Force (I believe) once stated so eloquently: "If ya can't be fast, at least be spectacular"... or words to that effect. And Jeff Gardemann in the "Weapon 1" certainly gave that phrase a good try, losing a front wheel (with spindle and A-arm still attached) in the shutdown area and grinding to a stop at the very end of the guardrail at the last turnout. That pretty much wrapped up his weekend as the team completed their testing on a decidely down note.


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Eddyville Raceway Park - Saturday Eliminations - Round ONE


Standing for the National anthem --- (near lane) Kyle Smith - 'Smith Racing' vs 
(far lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) With more than a few fans in the stands, everyone stood for the national anthem before eliminations got underway, starting with the "A" field.

(RIGHT) The first pair out of the staging lanes came from the middle of the field with the #4 and #5 cars meeting. In the near lane, it looks like Kyle Smith is putting a sizeable holeshot on Chuck Loftin, but it was only due to a MAJOR (as in -.302 r.t.) redlight. Despite moving into the 3-second zone on his final qualifying attempt (3.987 - 182.33), Smith threw it all away with the redlight and an early shutoff 4.646 - 104.77 pass. The beneficiary, Loftin, was able to shut off early too, carding a slowing 4.603 - 117.71 for the win.

(near lane) Levi Keenen - 'Illinois Thunder' vs 
(far lane) Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- (near lane) Jim Chase - 'Wicked Quick' vs 
(far lane) Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven'

(LEFT) In the near lane, it's the #8 qualifier, Illinois' Levi Keenen, putting a holeshot on low qualifier Ken Singleton. Despite the starting line advantage (.100 to .173 reaction times), Keenen's 4.321 - 173.28 fell well short of Singleton's thundering 3.759 - 204.72 clocking. Singleton's e.t. was the event best (to this point) by four thousandths, and the speed was only .09 mph short of his 204.82 best on Friday.

(RIGHT) In the near lane, Jim Chase's elation at his great 3.823 - 191.57 pass earlier in the day turned sour as he was (very) late on the launch (.234 to .140 reaction) and slowed to a 4.663 - 106.76 to take the loss. In the far lane, the "Cinderfella" story continued for the High Heaven team as Keith Jackson parlayed his nearly one tenth reaction advantage into a big win with a solid 4.212 - 159.74 e.t. to advance to the semi-finals.

(near lane) Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey' vs 
(far lane) Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' --- (near lane) Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' vs 
(far lane? Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' BURNOUTS

(LEFT) To close out the first round of "A" field eliminations, Robbie Massey in the near lane, cut a great light (.031) to put a decent holeshot on Steve Timoszyk's late-leaving .128 reaction in the far lane. Despite the early disadvantage, Timoszyk charged past Massey with a good 4.072 - 173.54 pass to easily cover Massey's 4.368 - 138.21 effort. That earned Timoszyk lane choice over Jackson in the semis, while Singleton had his choice over Loftin.

(RIGHT) Showing that Funny Cars can still do burnouts, Chris Schneider (far lane) legged it to nearly the finish line, while Nick Johnson (near lane) "only" went to the 330' mark before they opened "B" field eliminations.

(near lane) Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' vs 
(far lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- (near lane) Matt Nissen - 'Runnin' Down A Dream' vs 
(far lane) Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior'

(LEFT) After the cars backed up and the burnout smoke cleared, Nick Johnson (near lane) left nearly even with Chris Schneider (far lane), with both drivers under .100 on reactions (.050 to .076 advantage for Johnson). Schneider turned on the winlight with a 4.380 - 160.43 to Johnson's close, but losing, 4.450 - 155.76 timeslip.

(RIGHT) The next pairing saw both drivers a little triger-happy, as they both left before the green, with Matt Nissen's slightly worse (-.013) turning on the redlight (in the near lane), making Steve Vang (early by -.010) (in the far lane) the automatic winner. Nissen shut off early to a 5.411 - 89.11, while Vang legged it almost to the stripe with a 4.463 - 155.87 clocking.

(near lane) Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' vs 
(far lane) Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' --- (near lane) John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos' vs 
(far lane) Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream'

(LEFT) The best performance of the first round in the "B" field came in the next pair, as Clay Cunningham (near lane) launched with an .004 r.t. and turned low e.t. and top speed of the round at 4.116 - 161.41, to outdistance Jeff Cameron's 4.533 - 151.46 pass. Cutting the best reaction time of the meet was Cunningham, as his .004 launch overshadowed Cameron's very respectable .072 light.

(RIGHT) Closing out the first round of eliminations were John Umlauf (near lane) who left second (.133 to .105 light) - even though it doesn't appear that way in the photo - on Dustin Bradford (far lane) and ran away from the "American Dream" car for the win in his "Mass Chaos" entry. The apparent optical illusion in the launch photo is explained by Bradford's very troubled 14.226 - 36.21 clocking, while Umlauf coaxed the nitro-powered Monza to a much better 4.449 - 125.17 for the win, despite an early shutoff.

For the semi-final round, the pairings will be Chris Schneider over Steve Vang, and Clay Cunningham over John Umlauf.


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Eddyville Raceway Park - Saturday Eliminations - Round TWO


(near lane) Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' vs 
(far lane) Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' --- (near lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' vs 
(far lane) Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

(LEFT) The second (semi-final) round was led off by Keith Jackson in the near lane, taking on the "Detroit Tiger" of Steve Timoszyk (far lane) in a battle of two of the best looking cars in the field. Timsozyk took the decision as he dipped back into the 3's, with his best of eliminations 3.975 - 177.37 to overpower Jackson's good try of 4.610 - 114.53 which saw him off the loud pedal well before the finish line. Coupled with a six hundredths advantage at the green, Timoszyk was the easy winner.

(RIGHT) In the other "A" field pairing of the semis, Chuck Loftin redlighted by .095, but took the upset win via the "first or worst" rule as the apparent winner, Ken Singleton in the far lane, crossed the centerline. That infraction negated his low e.t. of the meet effort of 3.741 - 204.27 and gave Loftin's, almost as good 3.844 - 183.00 pass, the victory and lane choice in the final.

(near lane) Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warriot' vs 
(far lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- (near lane) Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' vs 
(far lane) John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos'

(LEFT) In the first pairing of the "B" field semi-finals, Steve Vang cut a great .047 light, but his 4.454 - 155.44 numbers fell short of Chris Schneider's winning 4.340 - 163.34 timeslip. Schneider left second with a .103 reaction, but the math came up with a .058 difference at the finish line, in Schneider's favour. One of the closest races of the event. In fact, the only closer race was between Schneider and Johnson in the first round, with a difference of just .044 seconds. Both times, Schneider had to overcome a holeshot. Could he do it three times in a row in the final? Stay tuned!

(RIGHT) The other semi-final match, featuring Clay Cunningham in the near lane, and John "Mass Chaos" Umlauf in the far lane, saw a runaway victory for Umlauf, by a margin of 4.224 - 149.01 to 4.999 - 117.62. Umlauf had to overcome a late leave (.054 to .139 advantage for Cunningham), but he easily passed him downtrack as Cunningham was off the pedal early. Going into the "B" field final, Umlauf held lane choice over Schneider.

(near lane) Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' vs 
(far lane) Justin Herbst - 'Scorpion'

After the semi-finals were run, two of the non-qualifiers - virtually all of the running cars left in the pits - paired up for a consolation match. We don't know who won the "race", but the fans enjoyed seeing the smoky burnouts and fast runs by a pair of blown funny cars. And to see the final round results, scroll down to the next update.



The latest update as of June 3, 2020


NHRA Mello Yello revised schedule header

In case you didn't see our link on the home page, here's the official announcement of the re-re-revised Mello Yello series schedule this morning from the NHRA.

In other drag racing news, here's the first pictures of the final day of the FUNNY CAR CHAOS at Eddyville Raceway Park last Saturday. We'll post the balance of the final qualifying and eliminations pics tomorrow.

(near lane) John Umlauf - 'Mass 
Chaos' vs (far lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- (near lane) Steve Timoszyk - 
'Detroit Tiger' vs (far lane) Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) In the Alky Digger "B" field final, a pair of blown fuel motors sprang to life. In the near lane, John Umlauf in the "Mass Chaos" car lit up the starting line with big flames on the launch and managed to overcome a major holeshot (.073 to .194 !) by Chris Schneider, driving the "Brutus" Mustang in the far lane. Umlauf's 4.16 - 170 put on the winlight over a close, but not close enough, 4.51 - 159 turned by Schneider.

(RIGHT) The final race of the night saw Steve Timoszyk in his "Detroit Tiger" Monza (near lane) leave first by just a few thousandths on opponent Chuck Loftin in the "Motivation" Mustang (far lane). Timoszyk stretched his lead all the way to the finish line, clocking a 4.26 - 173 to easily cover Loftin's 4.49 - 169 pass. Coupled with his two wins in three FCC events last year, this victory in his first race of the 2020 season shows that he's more than a contender for going rounds, but that he's got a good chance to contend for the season championship this year.


The latest update as of June 2, 2020


FCC Eddyville Header

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Eddyville Raceway Park - Friday Qualifying - Session One

Friday's agenda included two qualifying sessions for the 25 cars in attendance. One in the hot afternoon sun, and one under the lights in the evening. Although there were some good passes - and a few busted runs - in the first go-round, the racers started throwing down some serious numbers in the second session. The first session, mid-afternoon Friday, saw most of the teams working the bugs out of new combinations and blowing the dust off cars that hadn't been down the track for a few months, and in many cases, since last year.

Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' --- Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) The high country Jackson family team (Lakewood, CO) with their "High Heaven" driven by Keith Jackson, laid down a 4.209 - 165.20 pass that ended in disaster. The chutes didn't open and the car - which had just won the Best Appearing award - went deep into the cornfield at the end of the track. Lots of work by the crew and fellow fuel racer Jack Wyatt saw the repaired car ready for Saturday's eliminations.

Kyle Smith - 'Smith Racing' --- (L) Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey' 
(R) Kyle Smith - 'Smith Racing'

(RIGHT) Bringing his "(little) big show" Top Alcohol flopper to the party was Wichita's Kyle Smith and he nearly hit the 3's on his first attempt, clocking a very good 4.066 - 172.94 to land well up the ladder in the "A" field after the first day of qualifying.

(LEFT) Paired up with Robbie Massey in the Vern Moats tribute car (left lane) for the qualifier, Kyle Smith got to the finish ine first, as his 4.066 edged out Massey's close 4.137 - 135.62 effort.

Vic Tiffin - 'Gold Digger' --- Justin Herbst - 'Scorpion'

(LEFT) The team of Tiffin & Hess, with Vic Tiffin driving the "Gold Digger" had nothing but grief on Friday (and it didn't get any better on Saturday). On their first attempt (pictured) Vic left before the tree came down, then smoked the tires in the evening session. Result: zero for two. You'll notice that he's WAAAY up on the tires before he passed the christmas tree on his first hit.

(RIGHT Making his debut in Funny Car Chaos, North Platte, Nebraska"s Justin Herbst in the "Scorpion" got to the finish line in his first qualifying attempt with a 4.750 - 147.44 that left him just outside the "B" field, but with the list of broken cars growing quickly, all he had to do was keep the car running to get at least one round in eliminations on Saturday.

Nick Johnson - 'Prairie Fire' --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation'

(LEFT) After a seriously crossed-up reversing maneuver, Nick Johnson managed to get the "Prairie Fire" straightened out long enough to find the finish line at an on-and-off (and off-and-on?) 6.365 - 144.65 that left the Reinart & Johnson team looking for more luck on Saturday.

(RIGHT In a tribute to Big Show Funny Car pioneer Billy Meyer, Seguin, TX racer Chuck Loftin pushed his "Motivation" Mustang to an early shutoff 4.519 at only 118.08 on Friday. It was good enough to earn a spot in Saturday's eliminations, but nowhere near what he was expecting.

Scott Cousimano - 'Nitro Mafia' --- Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger'

(LEFT) The very definition of a "hard trier" is Scott Cousimano from Las Vegas with his "Nitro Mafia" Arrow, but he's still trying to put down competitive numbers after a number of years running his nitro nostalgia flopper. Another racer whose weekend ended early with a "best" of 11.012 - 43.08 that was punctuated with a broken rod. And apparently not enough parts in the trailer to fix it so a long tow for nothing.

(RIGHT A car that came out of nowhere partway through the 2019 season, the hard running "Detroit Tiger" of Detroit's (coincidence?) Steve Timoszyk jumped right into the thick of the "A" Field with an excellent 3.914 - 182.41 to serve notice that they were ready to rumble.

Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' --- Chris Foster - 'Everybody's Nightmare'

(LEFT) A regular on the FCC circuit, Clay Cunningham with his "Still Crazy" entry didn't get to the finish line under power, and his 4.559 - 129.09 best put him near the bottom of the "B" field going into Saturday's last ditch session.

(RIGHT Looking suitably nasty in an all-black car, NHRA Top Alcohol heavy hitter Chris Foster in his "Everybody's Nightmare" laid down a very good 3.902 - 174.89 that put him near the top of the "A" field.

Terry Totten - 'Rednecks N' Fuel' --- Terry Totten - 'Rednecks N' Fuel'

(LEFT)& (RIGHT With a big show car, Terry Totten debuted Mark Howard's "Rednecks N' Fuel" flopper and had nothing but trouble on his first - and last - pass of the weekend. The report from BIG Bob Snyder went like this: Totten big show car broke the rear in #1 which tore up the clutch & the motor went over 10000 rpm. Bottom line: not enough parts in the trailer to fix all the damage.


FUNNY CAR CHAOS - Eddyville Raceway Park - Friday Qualifying - Session Two

The evening qualifying session - second of three shots to qualify - went off under the lights and with better air and track conditions. We have the qualifying list for Friday - after the second session - but we don't have the first session results so e.t.'s and speeds reported below will be the best numbers recorded by the racers on the day.

Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' --- Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) One of the best looking tribute cars around, and in keeping with the car's theme, actually from Detroit, was Steve Timoszyk with his alky-burning "Detroit Tiger" Monza. The car always looks good and runs good and opened his weekend with an excellent 3.914 - 182.41 to land in the #3 position in the "A" field.

Chris Foster - 'Everybody's Nightmare' --- Chris Foster - 'Everybody's Nightmare'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) Another of the Top Alcohol "orphans" was the sinister looking and titled "Everybody's Nightmare" of North Platte, NB's Chris Foster and he laid notice that he was going to be a serious contender with an opening 3.902 - 174.89 (early shut-off?) pass.

Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) The defending series champion, Ken Singleton, in his beautiful "High Risk" car showed that a consistently hard-running blown alcohol combination can outrun some seriously powerful nitro burners. He did it again on Friday with a low qualifying 3.759 - 204.82 pass to set the standard for the field.

Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey' --- Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) Another good looking car that has some serious racing history behind it, the Robbie Massey driven, "Moats & Massey" entry put down a solid 4.137 - 135.62 to slot into the #7 position in the "A" field.

Jeff Krug - 'Obsession' --- Jeff Krug - 'Obsession'

(LEFT) & (RIGHT) A new racer on the FCC scene, in a sharp-looking green and black hot rod, is Jeff Krug with his "Obsession" and he showed the car is competitive right out of the box, with a career best 4.121 - 176.68 that put him into the "A" field. That's where the good news ended though, as breakage kept the car out of eliminations on Saturday.

Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Matt Nissen - ''Runnin' Down A Dream'

(LEFT) Rolling through the burnout, Chris Schneider in the Troxel & Schneider "Brutus" (a tribute car to Lew Arrington).

(RIGHT) His opponent for the second session was Nebraska's Matt Nissen in his Corvette-bodied "Runnin' Down A Dream".

(near lane) Matt Nissen - ''Runnin' Down A Dream' 
(far lane) Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' --- Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey'

(LEFT) The two cars staged up, with Nissen in the near lane, and Schneider on the far side. At the finish line it was Nissen with the win light at 4.491 - 159.63 for the alky burner, while the nitro-fuelled mount of Schneider trailed at 4.687 - 150.40.

(RIGHT) We're not sure how this happened, but it's another photo of Robbie Massey.

Jeff Cameron - 'Magnolia Missile' --- Justin Herbst - 'Scorpion'

(LEFT) A series regular, Jeff Cameron in the Texas-based "Magnolia Missile" fell short of making the "A" field on Friday, as his 4.415 - 156.69 left him in the #10 spot on the overall list. With 8 cars in the "A" field and 8 more in the "B" field, the action promised to be intense during the final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

(RIGHT) Yet another Chaos newcomer, Nebraska's Justin Herbst in his "Scorpion" couldn't crack the top 16, with a best on the day of 4.750 - 147.44 to land in the #18 spot.

Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekend Warrior' --- Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder'

(LEFT) Following up his season-opening win in the "B" field at Pine Valley Raceway in March, Oklahoma's Steve Vang in his "Wicked Weekend Warrior" put down a decent 4.491 - 153.69 on Friday that put him in the middle of the "B" field, with one more chance to improve his standing on Saturday.

(RIGHT) Long-time competitor Jordan Ballew in his aptly-named "Ballew Thunder" had a troubled run that finally stopped the clocks at 5.847 - 104.19 and put him on the outside looking in from the #19 position. However, with several cars already reporting irrepairable damage, there was a good chance for at least first round redemption during eliminations.

Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' --- Jim Chase - 'Wicked Quick'

(LEFT) The Bradford family's "American Dream" from San Antonio, dirven this weekend by young Dustin, shut off early to a 4.595 - 125.45 that put him on the provisional bump spot for the "B" field. With lots of experience behind them, the team was looking for something seriously better on Saturday.

(RIGHT) The very cool looking '57 Chevy of Bismarck, North Dakota's Jim Chase didn't quite live up to the car's name ("Wicked Quick") on Friday as he limped to a 6.796 - 75.77 to leave himself a big mountain to climb on Saturday afternoon if he wanted to be running for the money.

Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' --- Chuck Loftin- 'Motivation'

(LEFT) Regular FCC competitor Clay Cunningham is still running the "Still Crazy" car, but he didn't put down the numbers he's normally capable of with a best of 4.559 - 129.09 on Friday, leaving him near the bottom of the "B: field.

(RIGHT) Another of the numerous tribute cars running the series, Texas-based Chuck Loftin in the "Motivation" Mustang, got off the loud pedal early as his nitro burner carded only a 4.519 - 118.08, far short of what he was expecting to turn. Like so many others, there's always Saturday and the single suicide session of qualifying.

John Umlauf - 'Mass Chaos' --- Levi Keenen - 'Illinois Thunder'

(LEFT) A rather understated black and gun-metal grey paint scheme kept the John Umlauf driven "Mass Chaos" somewhat incognito, but he let the scoreboards do the talking with an early shutoff 4.383 - 125.73 pass that left him just outside the top eight (#9) on Friday. Greater expectations could be on tap for Saturday.

(RIGHT) Another newcomer to the series - a very common theme at this event - was the Illinois-based and named "Illinois Thunder" driven by Levi Keenen and the nitro rookie put down a decent 4.502 - 164.11 to show that he was ready to race in at least the "B" field.

Jeff Gardemann - 'Weapon 1' --- Chris King - 'Fool's Gold'

(LEFT) I took a while to dig up the info on the "Weapon 1" of Jeff (and Shannon) Gardemann but we can report that they were making test passes throughout the weekend.

(RIGHT) The Chicago-based "Fool's Gold" Duster driven by Chris King had a good news - bad news day on Friday. The good was the 4.118 - 171.17 pass that put them temporarily into the "A" field, but the bad news started when the car crossed the finish line as you'll see with the next series of photos.

'Fool's Gold' --- Fool's Gold' --- 'Fool's Gold'

Even though the car made it to the finish line under power, that's where the good news ended as a total of four rods broke at the 660' mark, putting holes in both sides of the block. Without a spare short block, the team was forced to load up and head home with a damaged (but repairable) block, a badly burned crankshaft, and who knows what else to fix.


The latest update as of June 1, 2020


FCC Eddyville Header

FUNNY CAR CHAOS holds it second event of the 2020 season

After a very long, two-and-a-half month hiatus, the sport's leading independent Funny Car series held a very successful event over the weekend at Iowa's Eddyville Raceway Park. With 27 cars on the pre-entry list, and a live-streamed show hosted on BangShift.com, anticipation was running at a fever pitch for fans starved of drag racing, especially of the nitro-fuelled variety.

Our correspondent made the 1458-mile drive from his home base near Phoenix to Eddyville, and despite some challenges along the way, made it there.... and hopefully back home safe and sound and ready to send some photos to tell the story of the race. At last report, he was more than halfway back to Arizona and should be home tonight and ready to go through his photo files sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned for all the good stuff! Until then, we've got some pit shots from Thursday.

Enroute --- Bob Snyder --- Wet Track

The weather enroute to the race wasn't the best as Bob left Arizona in bright sunshine but the further inland he traveled, the worse the weather got. When he arrived at the track three days later, it was wet, but the rain clouds were clearing and the forecast was fine for Friday and Saturday. WARNING: You may not want to enlarge the photo of Mr. Snyder. Just sayin'....

Chris King - 'Fools' Gold' --- Robbie Massey - 'Moats & Massey'

(LEFT) Warming up the "Fool's Gold" car in the warm afternoon sun is driver Chris King, all the way from West Palm Beach, Florida.

(RIGHT) Emerging from the trailer is the Vern Moats tribute car, driven by Robbie Massey of Des Moines, IA.

Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' --- Jim Chase - 'Wicked Quick'

(LEFT) Coming down from the high country, Lakewood, Colorado's Jackson family with Keith Jackson behind the wheel of the "High Heaven" entry, sporting a beautiful new paint job on the '70 Camaro body.

(RIGHT) A welcome change from the later-model cars is the aptly named "Wicked Quick" '57 Chevy of Bismarck, North Dakota's Jim Chase.



The latest update as of March 25, 2020


NHRA Official Schedule Announcement

NHRA ANNOUNCES REVISED SCHEDULE FOR MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES


In consideration of the COVID-19 global pandemic, NHRA officials announced today revisions to the 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The series is tentatively planned to resume June 5-7 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The season will conclude with the crowning of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champions November 13-15 at the Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

The revised schedule will consist of 19 total events, with 17 of those events being contested when the series resumes in June. Six of these events will be condensed to two-day competition schedules for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes due to economic and logistical factors. As a result of the compressed schedule points will not be reset after the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. NHRA has held two make-up dates on the calendar in case there are further delays.

Tentative schedule announcements for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series, Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Series and Samtech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Series will be announced soon. All NHRA-sanctioned drag racing series competition is still suspended until further notice.


So what does the revised schedule look like? And how has it changed from the original lineup of races, locations, and dates? Here's what the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello season will look like.... at least until the next revision. Let's call the current version 2020.1 and go from there.

Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals - February 6 - 9 - held as scheduled

NHRA Arizona Nationals - February 21 - 23 - held as scheduled

AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals - sportsman categories ran as scheduled March 12 - 15
PRO and PRO Sportsman categories to be held June 5 - 7

DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals - originally scheduled April 3 - 5 CANCELLED

NHRA Southern Nationals - originally scheduled May 15 - 17 CANCELLED

Virginia NHRA Nationals - originally scheduled May 29 - 31 CANCELLED

Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil - originally scheduled April 15 - 17
All categories to be contested June 12 - 14 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals - as per original schedule June 19 - 21 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals - as per original schedule June 26 - 28 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

Route 66 NHRA Nationals - as per original schedule July 9 - 12

Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil - as per original schedule July 17 - 19

NHRA Sonoma Nationals - as per original schedule July 24 - 26

NHRA Northwest Nationals - as per original schedule July 31 - August 2 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals - as per original schedule August 13 - 16

NHRA New England Nationals - originally scheduled August 21 - 23 CANCELLED

Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties - originally scheduled June 12 - 14
All categories to be contested August 21 - 23 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

NHRA U.S. Nationals - as per original schedule September 3 - 7 (minus one day - September 2)

Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil - originally scheduled September 17 - 20
All categories to be contested September 11 - 13 - PROs on Saturday-Sunday only

NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals - originally scheduled April 24 - 26
All categories to be contested September 18 - 20

NHRA Carolina Nationals - originally scheduled September 25 - 27 CANCELLED

Make Up Date if needed - AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals - September 25 - 27

AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals as per original schedule October 2 - 4

Make Up Date if needed - Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil - October 9 - 11

AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals - as per original schedule October 15 - 18

Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil - as per original schedule October 29 - November 1

Auto Club NHRA Finals - as per original schedule November 12 - 15


In addition to the dates on the revised schedule, NHRA has held open two weekends, September 25 - 27, and October 9 - 11, in the event that further delays to the schedule occur. That certainly doesn't give them much wiggle room and unfortunately we can expect to see further shrinkage and rearrangement in the schedule before racing resumes. Sad, but true. As always: STAY TUNED! for changes and updates.

A thorough re-read of the revised schedule shows that the two "open" weekends would allow the NHRA to begin national event racing as late as June 19 with the Thunder Valley Nationals and still complete the 19-race schedule on time in mid-November at Pomona. BUT, that would mean racing SEVEN weeks in a row - from the U.S. Nationals through to the Texas FallNationals, and leave only two free weekends from June through October (July 3-4 and August 29-30). Following that possible seven week stretch, there would also be open weekends on October 24-25 and November 7-8, but that would be the only breaks in a nearly six month drag racing marathon.

Of the five cancelled events, two were scheduled for Bruton Smith's "MEGA-tracks", the spring four-wide race in Las Vegas, and the fall two-wide event at ZMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC. Even though it impacts Smith's bottom line, it appears that NHRA decided to share the pain with everyone and the other three races dropped from the 2020 schedule were in weaker markets: Epping, NH; Atlanta, GA; and Richmond, VA.

One surprise that slipped into the revision was to reduce PRO class competition to two days (from three), which presumably means qualifying on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday. The question that immediately comes to mind is: how many qualifying sessions on Saturday? Two or three? Considering the dearth of overflowing fields in recent years, the answer is most likely two sessions. Go quick right out of the box or go home will be the new mantra in the nitro pits this season. UPDATE: A quick look at NHRA FAQ's on the revised schedule gives us the official answer - Drivers will make two qualifying passes on Saturday before competing in eliminations on Sunday.

The PRO Sportsman categories of Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car may see a reduction in national event opportunities, as the cancelled spring Las Vegas and fall Charlotte events were on their list of 16 nationals. That really shouldn't be a problem for racers as it takes away one western and one eastern race and still leaves 14 events to choose from for the seven races that can be counted towards the national championships. There is one racer that may be disappointed by the deletions, and that's Shawn Cowie who had a real hot streak going at Charlotte a few years back, winning the spring event in 2016, and the fall race back-to-back in 2016 - 2017.


The latest update as of March 24, 2020

Yesterday's topic veered away from motorsport for a day but we're back to what we know better than science or medicine or the social condition. The NHRA was first to announce postponements, starting with the Gatornationals, then the Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals, and including several regional/divisional events and a Heritage Series race. At this point everything is on hold until April 15th, which coincides with the start of the MOPAR Express Lane SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park on April 17th.

All we can do now is wait for the other shoe (or shoes) to drop as we move into early April. If the pandemic continues at its current spread and rate of growth, then the entire NHRA season will be in serious jeopardy. As always, stay tuned for continuing developments in this area. Looking at things from a local perspective, my home track Mission Raceway Park has cancelled all events through the end of April, with a hoped-for opening date of May 1st.

Following NHRA's annoucement, the other major drag racing associations in North America followed suit, but the gang at Funny Car Chaos was a little late off the mark, holding their season opener at Lufkin, TX on the March 13-14 weekend. After that race, the next event on the schedule (Ferris, TX) has been postponed to May 1-2 and the Mo-Kan Dragway event is holding to it's scheduled April 24-25 date. That's as of yesterday, but who knows what will happen in the next few weeks.

The PDRA has postponed their season opener, the Est Coast Nationals scheduled for April 2-4 to a later - to be determined - date. The balance of their 2020 schedule is currently as is, with the first race (Mid-Atlantic Showdown) on tap for Virgina Motorsports Park on May 7-9th. Further developments or changes can almost certainly be expected.

Smaller regional associations, such as the Western Fuel Altereds who have postponed their season opener, scheduled for April 12. No new date announced. Another group, the Outlaw Fuel Altereds (Texas-based) still shows their season opener scheduled for April 11-12 at Evedale, TX. And the United Nitro Funny Car association has got their season opener still scheduled for May 8-9 at Tucson Dragway. With the demise of their website last year it's difficult to get much information from them except through their Facebook page.

The IHRA (International Hot Rod Association) - remember them? - has announced postponements of their early season "sportsman spectaculars" until the beginning of May. The Australian branch of IHRA, the 400 Thunder has announced the cancellation of the next race on their PRO calendar, the Santo's Super Thunder event that was scheduled for April 10th. Note that it's been cancelled, not merely postponed. The next event on the 400 Thunder schedule, Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, is set for Sydney Dragway on May 1-2 and it's still on the table as of today.

The other Aussie sanctioning body, ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) has postponed the final event on their 2019-2020 calendar, the Grand Final from this coming weekend to October. Their latest media release mentions that any event that has more 500 people in attendance (competitors, spectators and officials) is suspended until the end of April. Looks like Australia is well behind the curve at the moment, as restrictions that started at 250 people in North America, became 50, and now down to 10, or even gatherings of five people in some jurisdictions.

Some of the smaller associations, such as Australia's Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars cancelled a planned event last weekend in New Zealand, and at the same time postponed an event in Palmyra (North Queensland) from last weekend to November. From one disaster to another, the Outlaw FC's had to cancel an event at Perth (Western Australia) in January due to the bushfires cutting off some of the highways on the East Coast. The next event on their calendar is at Alice Springs in mid-July and on paper, that seems to be a safe date. Again, who's got a crystal ball to see that far ahead?

On the other side of the world, in Europe, the FIA European Drag Racing Championship is still well in the future, with the season opening at England's Santa Pod Raceway with the FIA/FIM Main Event scheduled for May 22-25. While that seems like a long time from now, it's only two months and again, who knows where we'll be at that time. As most of the tracks in Europe have done, or are in the process of doing, all drag racing events are suspended until at least the end of April.


The latest update as of March 23, 2020

We're less than two weeks into the suspension of all - or almost all - drag racing activity. That hiatus began with NHRA announcing the partial postponement of the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 12th. They did run all the sportsman classes and eliminators - without any spectators in the stands - but the professional cars were turned around and sent home to await further developments and decisions.

The followup to that first bombshell was the 30-day halt to all NHRA events that began on March 16th, with the intention of resuming the national event season at Houston Raceway Park with the MOPAR Express Lane SpringNationals in mid-April. Following the postponement of the Gatornationals, the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas was also put off to a future date that remains undetermined. In addition, there have been three Lucas Oil Series regional and divisional events postponed and the second event on the NHRA's Hot Rod Heritage Series calendar, Sacramento Raceway's Funny Car Fever has been rescheduled for mid-July.

But even moving an event nearly four months into the future may not be far enough to be truly past the COVID-19 pandemic. While optimistic predictions a week ago were predicting a resumption of many activities in a month or so, the reality is that it will likely be a minimum of six months before the crisis is truly on the wane, and a second wave of infections is very likely to occur. That would put us through 2020 and possibly as late as next spring. With the staggering effects on global economies and populations around the world growing daily - and even hourly - and increasing exponentially, we're most likely looking at a very long, very slow recovery from this crisis.

I sincerely hope that the scenario laid out above does not come to pass, but until we can see past the peak of the infection curve, then no one can predict with any certainty when "normal" life has any chance of resuming. In the meantime we've got a chance to turn off the outside world and get in touch with ourselves and our families. I was going to add "those close to us" but social/physical distancing precludes that option. Unless there's something MAJOR to report on the pandemic, I'm changing the subject back to what this website is all about: DRAG RACING.


The latest update as of March 19, 2020

As outlined on the home page, the drag racing world is on hiatus for what could be quite a while. There is really no way of knowing or predicting when large gatherings of people will be allowed again, in North America or elsewhere. We certainly haven't neared the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, but the only hopeful sign is that China (where the virus originated) has seen new infections drop to nearly zero and if we can extrapolate their experience, the worst could be over in this part of the world in the next two to three months. Hopefully....

The only bright side to this currently imposed downtime is that it gives us time to catch up on so many long-delayed projects here at Northern Thunder, and launch into a new historical review of NHRA drag racing, starting 50 years ago and working forward from there. Stay tuned for that feature coming soon! Until then, we've got coverage of the recently completed Good Vibrations March Meet lower down on this page and soon to be in the updated "Features" section of the site.


The latest update as of March 16, 2020


NHRA

NHRA OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

At this time, we are suspending all NHRA drag racing for thirty days in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This suspension includes events at all NHRA-owned tracks and any NHRA-sanctioned events such as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. We intend at this time to resume the original schedule on April 17-19 in Houston, and continue thereafter, subject to developments in the interim. The spring Las Vegas event is postponed with new dates TBD. Please go to LVMS.com for information if you have purchased tickets for the postponed event.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely, to listen to experts, and to be transparent as to when we believe we will be able to resume racing.

We made this decision with heavy hearts as we see the effects this pandemic is having on the world, the country and our NHRA family. We believe this is the right decision since social distancing and reducing gatherings of people has been recommended as one of the most effective ways to protect everyone in the long run.

We are all in this complicated, uncertain and rapidly changing situation together, and we encourage everyone to look out for each other. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We encourage you to consult CDC Coronavirus for information and updates.

We look forward to the time when we all come together again in person to celebrate the most extreme sport on the planet. Though we will have to be physically apart we encourage you to stay connected with the community through NHRA.com, and all of our social channels, on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. NHRA.TV and National DRAGSTER will continue to deliver drag racing content for you.


The latest update as of March 13, 2020


AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals

The 51st edition of the NHRA Gatornationals began at Gainesville Raceway as scheduled yesterday, but with a major twist in this year's event. For the first - and hopefully last - time ever, NO professional race cars were in attendance, and even stranger, not a single spectator was in the grandstands.

In the very unlikely event that you've been living under a rock, on a return trip from the Moon, or in a coma, there's been a major disruption in the world we live in - the COVID-19 virus - and it's effects are wreaking havoc on a larger and more widespread basis virtually hour by hour. In the past week we've seen international borders closed, travel restrictions put into effect, and now, large public events postponed or cancelled.

When the magnitude of this situation really started to hit home to me yesterday, it was the suspension of all NHL hockey games until further notice, then in rapid succession, virtually all sports events - large and small - professional and amateur. It quickly began to dawn on me that drag racing would be next and before the day was over, it became official: the Gatornationals was being downsized to the Sportsman categories, the spectator gates were closed, and unless there is a major turnaround in the spreading and control of the virus, we can expect to see dragstrips everywhere on this planet turn into ghost towns for the foreseeable future.

It's difficult to conceive of this happening, as the sport has continued even when there were major world crises happening - wars, disease outbreaks, even 9-11, but this current coronavirus has topped them all in it's impact on the world in general and sports in particular. At this time we can only wait and hope that the medical community can effectively deal with the virus and we can all get back to the world we knew before this week's rapid downward spiral.


The latest update as of March 10, 2020

If you've been wondering what happened to the Friday and Saturday coverage and most of Sunday's.... well it all arrived in a BIG transfer from ace photojournalist Bob Snyder earlier today. Now all we have to do is go through 300+ photos, write some descriptions and try to pull it all together in a cohesive manner. Looks like we're going to be busy for the rest of the week. It's actually a bit of a blessing that Bob isn't going to the season opener of FUNNY CAR CHAOS on Friday in Texas.


The latest update as of March 9, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Sunday results from Bakersfield

AA/FD - (near lane) Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' 
(far lane) Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Circuit Breaker' --- AA/FC - (near lane) Matt Melendez 'Cacklin' Critter' 
'70 Challenger (far lane) Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsport'

(LEFT) Taking the big trophy in Top Fuel for the second time was Pete Wittenberg (far lane) in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" with a great 5.678 - 251.49 pass over a tough opponent in Tyler Hilton (near lane) in the Jim & Alison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" car. Hilton left first on everyone he raced, and despite slower e.t.'s, worked his way to the final where his 5.927 - 229.20 fell short of Wittenberg's winning pass.

(RIGHT) In Nostalgia Funny Car, Matt Bynum in the Matthews Motorsports Camaro, (far lane) continued his string of jaw-dropping runs with a final round 5.617 - 250.13 to defeat the consistent, but not quick enough Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (near lane), who left first but finished second with a 5.749 at only 224.73 mph.

---

(LEFT) Coming out of the bottom of the field, after qualifying on the bubble, Ron "Big Show" Capps worked his way to the final round in the "Good News" Fiat (far lane) where his luck held out as a 6.637 - 158.93 was more than enough to dispatch a red-lighting Robert Winefsky in the Arizona-based "Coyote Express" who left waaay (-.194) too early and shut off to a 7.497 - 120.91 loss.

(RIGHT) A new eliminator - Nitro Pro Comp - arose from the ashes of a few tried and discarded classes and it featured a match between Billy McDevitt in his rear-engined Top Fuel Dragster (near lane) against Washingtonian Chris Davis in his "Old School Nitro" '77 Arrow AA/Funny Car (far lane). Running on a 5.90-index, both cars came relatively close to the number, with McDevitt pulling out a 6.089 to 6.097 win. A close race on paper, but Davis's reaction time of .242 left him far behind McDevitt's .114 on the launch, and at the finish line.

--- Jr. Fuel - Don Enriquez (near lane) vs Brad 
Woodard (far lane)

(LEFT) The last of the PRO categories, A/Fuel Dragster, featured the two most dominant racers and cars in the cateogry. Drew Austin (near lane) took out his strongest challenger, Kin Bates (far lane) in a race that ended quickly when Bates went up in smoke on the launch and shut off to a 16-second time. Austin meanwhile, pounded out another 5-second pass for good measure, stopping the clocks at 5.907 - 233.16 for his first March Meet trophy.

(RIGHT) At the top of the Sportsman food chain, the Junior Fuel category still attracts a small but solid field of competitors, with a very real connection to the heyday of the class in the late 60's, the ageless Don Enriquez (far lane), advancing to the final for the umpeenth time at Famoso, before falling to the 2020 March Meet champion, Brad Woodard (near lane) on a 6.998 - 187.89 to an early shutoff 7.913 - 152.59 for Enriquez. To even up the competition in the category there are three classes (A,B,C) with indexes ranging from 6.89 to 7.01 to 7.14. and it seems to work for the participants.


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 2 eliminations


Rian Konno - 'Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno' 
(left) - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' (right) --- Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' (left) 
- Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' (right)

(LEFT) Following his first round UPSET over low qualifier Dan Horan Jr., Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (right lane) took out the #8 qualifer Rian Konno in the "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" Mustang (left lane) in a relatively close race: 5.713 - 241.93 over Konno's slightly quicker leaving (.108) to (.129) but later arriving 5.788 - 247.61 pass.

(RIGHT) As can be quite clearly seen in the photo, Jerry Espeseth in the ex-Jason Rupert "Rolling Thunder 2.0" Camaro (left lane)) is in a world of trouble early, recording a (.423) reaction time, then smoking the tires before shutting off and rolling to a NTR - NSR clocking. Taking full advantage of his plight was Matt Bynum in the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (right lane) who sped to low e.t. of eliminations at 5.584 - 252.05.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (left) 
- Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler' (right) --- Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' (left) 
- Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' (right)

(LEFT) Two of the major hitters in the 2019 Heritage season matched up next as Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" (left lane) kept up his mastery over Don Nelson's "California Hustler" Firebird driven by Jeff Arend (right lane) by leaving first (.051) to (.110) and outrunning the Hustler for a 5.662 - 246.93 to 5.730 - 252.00 decision over Arend.

(RIGHT) Running into trouble early was the aptly named "Problem Child" Camaro of Billy Morris (left lane) as he quickly faded to a 12.684 - 63.57, while Ryan Hodgson in the Canadian "Pacemaker" Camaro (right lane) ran strong to his best numbers of the event, stopping the clocks at 5.654 - 258.57 for the decisive victory and a place in the semi-finals.

Pairings for that round are Matt Melendez vs Bobby Cottrell, with Cottrell holding lane choice, and Ryan Hodgson against Matt Bynum, with Bynum having his pick of lanes.


NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Round 1 eliminations


Brendan Murry - --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III'
 (left) - Jim Murphy - 'WWIII' (right)

(LEFT) Opening Top Fuel eliminations were the #1 and #8 qualifiers, and this one ended quickly as Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" (right lane) followed up his low qualifying 5.60 pass, with a very strong 5.685 - 247.52 to easily dispatch Brendan Murry's off-pace 10.740 - 65.78 effort in his "Running Wild" entry (left lane). Murry left first by 12-thousandths, but that's all he had for Wittenberg.

(RIGHT) The first upset of TF eliminations came in the second pairing as lightly regarded Tyler Hilton in the Lee-family "Great Expectations III" (left lane) took a holeshot win over multi-time champion Jim Murphy in his "WWIII" car (right lane). Despite a quicker e.t., 6.027 - 180.77 for Murphy to a 6.084 - 227.04 for Hilton, the difference at the starting line (.088 to .164) in Hilton's favour, added up to a less than two-hundredths margin at the finish line.

Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (left) - 
Bryan Hall - 'H & H Nomad' (right) --- Dan Horan Jr. (left) - Bret Williamson - 
'Forever Young' (right)

(LEFT) Making his March Meet debut was Tyler Hester in the "Overtime Special" (left lane) (formerly driven by his uncle Rick McGee), and he upended the #3 qualifier Bryan Hall in the "H & H Nomad" (right lane) 5.890 - 212.13 to an early shutoff 6.781 - 143.81 for Hall.

(RIGHT) The round closed with the third lower qualified car winning as Dan Horan Jr. (left lane) clocked a 5.794 - 234.78 to eliminate Bret Williamson's - "Forever Young" entry (right lane) at 5.902 - 241.28. The race was essentially over on the starting line though as Williamson's (.234) reaction was well behind Horan's so-so (.142) launch, but Dan won the race at both ends of the track.

Following the round, pairings for the semi-finals were as follows: Pete Wittenberg over Dan Horan Jr., and Hester over Hilton in a battle of the Tylers.


AA/FUEL ALTERED - Round 1 eliminations


Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' (left) - 
Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon' (right) --- Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' (left) - 
Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (right)

With a total of 15 entries for the 6.00-indexed class, eliminations promised some serious excitement for fans (and who isn't?) of the short-wheelbased, overpowered, ill-handling dinosaurs.

(LEFT) First out of the box was the pairing of Robert Winefski in the "Coyote Express" (left lane) and Washington state's Tom Padilla in his very competitive "Red Dragon" (right lane) and it delivered an upset as #2 qualifier Padilla was ousted by #7 Winefski. Despite a better e.t. 6.301 at an early shutoff 171.49, Padilla's late-launching (.169) reaction time left him nearly a tenth behind the "Express" at the green. The slower (but faster) 6.334 - 223.14 for Winefsky allowed his quicker (.079) light to turn on the winlight.

(RIGHT) Another upset occurred in the next pair as every lower qualified car won in the first round, and this time it was "Nitro" Jim Holtz (left lane) taking the win with a 6.483 - 195.31 over ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess's 6.622 - 152.14 - in Dave Benjamin's "Nasty Benjamin" entry (right lane). Neither driver scorched the reaction timers (.179) for Holtz and (.194) for Burgess but it was decided at the finish line, not on the start.

Ron Capps - 'Good News' (left) - 
James Generalao Jr. (right) --- Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic!' (left) - 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (right)

(LEFT) After another difficult time qualifying as they squeaked into the field in the final qualifying session, Ron Capps in the "Good News" Fiat (left lane) left on his opponent (.083) to (.118) and cruised to an easy victory, able to shut off early to a 6.559 - 168.05, as James Generalao Jr. in the "Impatient" entry (right lane) slowed to a 8.117 - 104.23 for the loss.

(RIGHT) Closing out the opening round of eiminations were the most closely matched pair from qualifying, as #4 Shawn Van Horn in the very cool retro "Panic!" Bantam (left lane) put down a very quick 6.137 - 213.91 to lose by just two thousandths of a second to #5 qualifier Mark Whynaught's "Nitro Mamba", who ran only five thousandths slower at 6.142 - 222.00, but left first (.107) to (.114) to take the closest win of the day in any eliminator.

Semi-final pairings were: Mark Whynaught with lane choice over Ron Capps and Robert Winefsky over Jim Holtz.


NITRO PRO COMP - Round 1 eliminations


AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Rodney Flournoy - 'Hot Wheels' (left) 
- AA/FC Dan Hix (right)

(LEFT) As low qualifier in the short field (7 out of 8 spots filled) Chris Davis in the "Old School Nitro" Arrow took it easy (the butteflies are closed well before the 330' clocks) with a 15.083 - 61.12 pass to move into the semi-finals.

(RIGHT) In what became the only pairing of the first round, two AA/FC's squared off, with Rodney Flournoy (left lane) in the "Hot Wheels" tribute Mustang took out Dan Hix (right lane) by a decisive (.108) 7.027 - 168.32 to (.242) 7.603 - 125.48 had trouble establishing a solid grip on the Famoso surface. Being really late at the green didn't help either.

AA/FD - Billy McDevitt --- AA/FC - Dean Oberg - 'Fighting Irish'

(LEFT) On a solo pass as scheduled opponent Rick Rogers failed to appear, is Billy McDevitt clocking in at 7.946 - 102.88 on a rather troubled, but winning pass.

(RIGHT) The round closed with another bye run as Mike Halstead was a no-show, so Dean Oberg behind the wheel of the iconic "Fighting Irish" Camaro, put down a fair 6.764 - 175.16 time to advance to the semifinals.

Semi-final pairings were: Chris Davis over Rodney Flournoy and Dean Oberg over Billy McDevitt.


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 3 eliminations


AA/FC - Matt Melendez 'Cacklin' Critter' 
(near lane) vs Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (far lane) --- AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' (near lane) 
vs Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' (far lane)

Going into the semi-finals, all four cars had some very strong runs on their ledgers, with the gap between them in the 2nd round ranging from Matt Bynum's 5.584 to Matt Melendez's 5.713, with Hodgson and Cottrell in the mid 5.60's.

(LEFT) The first pair out of the lanes saw Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (near lane) continue his dream run from the #16 qualifying position, as he ran another solid ".70", carding a 5.756 - 244.74 to dispatch an early shutoff 7.053 - 135.51 from Bobby Cottrell in the "Bardahl Special" Camaro (far lane).

(RIGHT) In the other pairing, Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro left first (.094 to .168) for a healthy lead at the green but couldn't hold off the charing "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro of Matt Bynum as he thundered through the lights at 5.621 - 261.83 for Top Speed of eliminations and lane choice in the final round.


NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Round 2 eliminations


AA/FD - Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Circuit Breaker' 
(near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) --- AA?FD - Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' 
(near lane) vs Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (far lane)

(LEFT) Low qualifier Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" (near lane) continued that pace in the 1st round of eliminations with his best of the round (5.685), then improved to a 5.663 - 250.78 to easily outdistance the good try of Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) 5.800 - 259.86. Wittenberg left first by nearly seven hundreths (.040 to .118) and Horan was simply unable to close the gap despite the big top end speed.

(RIGHT) Then it was time for the battle of the young "Tylers" as Tyler Hilton in "Great Expectations III" (near lane) took a close match over Tyler Hester in the "Overtime Special" (far lane) by a 5.958 - 210.90 to 6.003 - 199.08 decision. Adding in the reaction times (.149 for Hilton vs .234 for Hester) made the gap at the finish nearly three car lengths. That win for Hilton wasn't quick enough to garner lane choice over Wittenberg for the final round.


AA/FUEL ALTERED - Round 2 eliminations


Ron Capps - 'Good News' (near lane) - 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (far lane) --- Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' - 
Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' (not shown - broken)

(LEFT) The second round of AA/FA eliminations kicked off with "Big Show" Ron Capps in the "Good News" Fiat coupe (near lane) leaving first on Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" (far lane) and tickling the index with a solid 6.123 - 216.17 to hold off a fast closing 6.310 - 227.34 charge by Whynaught.

(RIGHT) The other semi-final was a bit of a downer as "Nitro" Jim Holtz (far lane - not shown) started leaking oil on the burnout, then took a while to shutoff before Robert Winefski took a 12-second single in the "Coyote Express" and an invite to the final round. Ron Capps obviously held lane choice for the trophy dash.


NITRO PRO COMP - Round 2 eliminations


NPC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' (near 
lane) bye run --- NPC - Billy McDevitt (near lane) vs Dean Oberg 
- 'Fighting Irish' (far lane)

(LEFT) The first round of eliminations saw three bye runs and only one pairing, and the semi-final round started with yet another single as Rodney Flournoy was unable to appear in the "Hot Wheels" Mustang, and Chris Davis in the "Old School Nitro" Arrow took full advantage with his second free pass of the day directly into the final round. He took the slow way down to the finish line at 10.034 - 80.45 to save on the equipment.

(RIGHT) In the other semifinal race, Billy McDevitt (near lane) took an easy win over Dean Oberg in the "Fighting Irish" Camaro (far lane), leaving first and clocking a decent 6.214 - 194.49 as Oberg faded early and shutoff to a 7.336 - 137.00 time. With the nearly full pass, McDevitt earned lane choice for the final round over Davis.


FINAL ROUND ELIMINATIONS

The full description of the final rounds appeared higher up on the page. For full details, go here

AA/FD - Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' 
(near lane) vs Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Circuit Breaker' (far lane) --- AA/FC - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' 
(near lane) vs Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' (far lane)

(LEFT) Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" (far lane) defeated Tyler Hilton in the "Great Expectations III" (near lane) 5.678 - 251.49 to 5.927 - 229.20

(RIGHT) Matt Bynum in the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (far lane) defeated Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (near lane) 5.167 - 250.13 to 5.749 - 224.73

AA/FA - Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' 
(near lane) vs Ron Capps - 'Good News' (far lane) --- NPC - Billy McDevitt (near lane) vs Chris 
Davis 'Old School Nitro' (far lane)

(LEFT) Ron Capps in the "Good News" Fiat coupe (far lane) defeated Robert Winefski in the "Coyote Express" (near lane) 6.637 - 158.93 to a red-lighting (-.194) 7.497 -120.91

(RIGHT) Billy McDevitt (near lane) defeated Chris Davis in the "Old School Nitro" Arrow 6.089 - 206.35 to 6.097 - 243.77. Despite a big top end charge, Davis's late launch (.242 to .114) left the flopper well in arrears at the stripe.

A/Fuel - Drew Austin (near lane) vs Kin Bates 
(far lane) --- Jr. Fuel - Don Enriquez (near lane) vs Brad 
Woodard (far lane)

(LEFT) Drew Austin (near lane) defeated Kin Bates (far lane) 5.907 - 233.16 to 16.463 - 57.52

(RIGHT) Brad Woodard (far lane) defeated Don Enriquez (near lane) 6.998 - 187.89 to 7.913 - 152.59


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The latest update as of March 8, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Saturday results from Bakersfield


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 1 eliminations

With 24 AA/FC's in the pits on Wednesday, everyone knew that it was going to take a solid effort, and some very good e.t.'s to make the ultra-tough (as always) 16-car field. The bump spot moved steadily downwards as qualifying progressed, from a Friday (1st session) 12-second time, to the second session's 6.176, and finally in the last-ditch Saturday session to a very stout 5.832, leaving the new "Quarter Pounder" of Van Gundy, Clark & Monise on the outside by just six-thousandths (5.838). Right behind them was Bill Windham at a very good 5.851, before the field trailed off into the 6-second zone and beyond. The first round of eliminations went off late Saturday afternoon and featured some very close matchups. Our coverage starts below with a different photograph perspective from the deep end of the track.


AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' --- AA/FC - Justin Taylor -'Evil, Wicked, 
Mean & Nasty'

The first pairing featured two middle of the pack (#7 vs #10) qualifiers, but it was no contest as Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro (LEFT) launched first by a .073 to .150 margin, then ran away from Justin Taylor in the "Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty" Mustang (RIGHT). Hodgson's 5.827 - 250.51 train-lengthed Taylor's early shutoff 7.290 - 148.71 effort.

AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' --- AA/FC - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' 
(left) vs Dan Horan - 'Infinity' (right)

(LEFT) Second out of the chute was James Day in the "Speed Sport Special" Omni and while he ran a very respectable 5.845 - 252.71 and left first (.082 to .160), it wasn't nearly enough to stay ahead of Matt Bynum in the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (not shown) who pounded out low e.t. and top speed of the round with a crushing 5.587 - 260.97 for the win.

(RIGHT) Side by side through the top end are Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (left) and Dan Horan Jr. Camaro (right) after Melendez pulled the upset of the day, taking out the #1 qualifier in the first round. Neither driver cut a light (.200 to .205) in Melendez's favour, but the scoreboards told the tale, with a 5.709 - 245.27 for Melendez and 6.349 - 242.32 for Horan. Without the video to see what happened, we can only surmise that Horan had to pedal (smoke or shake) as his mph number indicated that he stayed on the throttle to the finish line.

AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- AA/FC - Tim Nemeth - 'Iceman'

On paper this looked to be a somewhat lopsided match, with #15 qualifier Tim Nemeth in his "Iceman" Firebird (LEFT) at a definite disadvantage against #2 qualifier Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro (RIGHT). But when the lights came on, Nemeth left first (.145 to .219) and gave Morris a battle all the way to the stripe, falling just over a car-length short as both drivers ran into problems early then pedalled their way to the finish line with Morris running 7.298 - 220.26 to overcome Nemeth's close 7.423 - 218.23 losing effort.

AA/FC - Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling 
Thunder 2.0' --- AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour'

The next pairing saw sometimes Canadian Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro (RIGHT) leave second and finish second with a solid, but outclassed, 5.753 - 241.28 time as Jerry Espeseth in the "Rolling Thunder 2.0" Camaro light up the scoreboards with a much better 5.601 - 257.83 to advance to the second round. Espeseth's six hundredths advantage on the launch just added icing to the cake.

AA/FC - Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' --- AA/FC - Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment

The round continued with an all-Camaro battle which was not surprising as 10 out of the 16 qualifiers were piloting that model. Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" (LEFT) started his quest for another Heritage series championship with an unspectacular 5.894 - 249.12 (the numbers suggest a pedal job early in the run) win. Shutting off early and coasting to a first-round runnerup was opponent Tony Jurado in the "Capitol Punishment" Camaro (RIGHT) turning a slowing 6.480 - 150.30 in defeat.

AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' (left) vs 
Rian Konno - 'Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno' (right)

(LEFT) The closest Funny Car race of the event came in the second to last pair of the round, as Brad Thompson in the "Jaiblreak" Camaro (left lane) and Rian Konno in the "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" Mustang left with identical (.123) lights and crossed the finish line less than a car length apart. The verdict on the scoreboards read: Konno 5.747 - 250.88 for the WIN and Thompson 5.777 - 250.52 for the LOSS.

AA/FC - Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard'

The round closed with last year's 2nd place finisher in the Heritage Series standings, Jeff Arend in the "California Hustler" Firebird (LEFT) quickly dispatching Mike Peck in the "Quote Wizard" Camaro (RIGHT), by a very decisive margin of 5.644 - 256.06 to 18+ seconds at a leisurely 49 mph.

With the first round of eliminations in the books as Saturday's racing came to a close, the pairings for the quarter-finals on Sunday morning were: Matt Melendez with lane choice over Rian Konno; Matt Bynum choosing over Jerry Espeseth (by only 14-thousandths); Jeff Arend with the choice over Bobby Cottrell; and Ryan Hodgson holding his choice over Billy Morris.


Back to the Top of the page

The latest update as of March 7, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Friday results from Bakersfield


AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session 1

As the third PRO class in the Heritage Series pecking order, the AA/Fuel Altereds continue to excite the fans and create interest amongst the racers as this year's March Meet saw 15 entries trying to squeeze into the 8-car field. To keep the class from getting out of hand - and where and how many times have you heard that before? - there is a firm 6.00-second index to give the lesser funded (aka: low buck) teams a chance to compete. The potential of these cars was amply demonstrated during qualifying as Keith Wilson in his nasty-looking "Witch Doctor" entry blew up the index with a 5.833 clocking in the first session, at an "out the back door" 243.19 speed for good measure. Read on to see how the first session went.


AA/FA - Ron Capps - 'Good News' --- AA/FA - Rodney Flournoy - 'Godzilla'

(LEFT) Coming back for a second shot at March Meet glory in the "Good News" Fiat coupe, Ron "Big Show" Capps lights up the tires as he prepares for his qualifier that ended a little early with a 7.537 - 118.83 that put him in the #11 position.

(RIGHT) A real "blast from the past" competitor came out next as Rodney Flournoy in the family run "Godzilla" slotted into the provisional field on the bump spot with a 6.853 - 195.56 that left much room for improvement on Saturday.

AA/FA - Eric Gates - 'Agent Orange' --- AA/FA - Dan Hix - 'Heatseeker'

(LEFT) After a runner-up finish at this event in 2018, to failing to qualify last year, Eric Gates in "Agent Orange" was looking for much better results this year but a 7.320 - 154.10 wasn't was he was looking for. With only one more qualifier on Saturday, it was going to take some work to move up from his #10 slot into the field.

(RIGHT) Doing double duty as he was also entered in Nitro Pro Comp, Oregon's Dan Hix in the "Heatseeker" had an odd pairing of numbers, as his 6.723 (good enough for the #7 spot) had a trap speed of 249.53. It must have been an early pedal, then a banzai run to the finish line.

AA/FA - Robert Winefsky - 'Coyote Express' --- AA/FA - James Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient'

(LEFT) The Arizona-based - and aptly named - "Coyote Express" of Robert Winefski ran the best of the session to this point and stopped the clocks at 6.420 - 214.42, good enough for the #4 spot on the provisional qualifying list.

(RIGHT) Coming back to try again for the March Meet trophy was James Generalao Jr. in his "Impatient" entry and he found the tuneup was lacking the punch from last year (6.180 in the 1st session), as he only slotted in to the #9 spot with a 6.867 - 197.08.

AA/FA - Mike Halstead - 'Black Sunshine' --- AA/FA - Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon'

(LEFT) We could fill an entire page talking about the "Black Sunshine" 23-T of the "Over The Hill Gang" driven by Mike Halstead. The connection to the famed nitro racing "Gang" is still intact as Bill Schultz is doing the tuning but it didn't work out too well in the first session as Halstead had to pedal the car before the 330' clocks and shut off to a 10.201 - 85.87 to land in the #13 position.

(RIGHT) Launching into a nice wheelie, Washingtonian Tom Padilla in his "Red Dragon" ran strong to the 1000' mark before getting off the loud pedal and still nearly tickling the index at 6.058 - 208.49. Despite coasting across the finish line, Padilla still finished the round at the top of the ladder, nearly a tenth ahead of his nearest competitor.

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic!'

(LEFT) The unsinkable Dave Benjamin showed up with a new driver this year, as ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess now resides in the HOT seat of the "Nasty Benjamin" 23-T and he had quite a ride in his first appearance in AA/FA. They stopped the clocks at 6.138 - good for #2 in the order - at a much reduced speed of only 182.43 mph.

(RIGHT) Looking as old school as they come, with skinny Halibrand (?) spoke front wheels and a high open Bantam body, the "PANIC!" entry of Shawn Van Horn looked like a contender with his opening shot of 6.177 - 230.25 and landed in the #3 spot to set him up for a good weekend.

AA/FA - Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

(LEFT) Making a statement with his first pass of the season, "Nitro" Jim Holtz in his 1924 Dodge (okay, we'll buy that story) moved solidly into the field in the #6 spot with a 6.501 at only 173.08 mph as he shut off well before the stripe.

(RIGHT) Coming all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, George Gallimore in the "Sundown" '37 Fiat Toppolino launched hard but faded early to a #12 qualifying 9.631 - 77.88 clocking.

AA/FA - Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor'

What index? We don't need no stinkin' index! seems to be the mantra of the "Witch Doctor" team of Keith Wilson as he blew right past the 6.00 limit with a tremendous 5.833 - 243.19 pass to end up at the bottom of the pack with just one more chance to qualify on Saturday afternoon.


NOSTALGIA FUEL DRAGSTER - Qualifying Session 1

All 12 of the pre-entered cars/racers were in the pits on Friday morning but the diversity that's been evident at previous March Meet's was a little lacking as only one out of state entry was in evidence, that being the Jim & Alison-owned "Great Expectations III" driven by the son of previous pilot Bobby Hilton, now under the control of Tyler Hilton.

And in the biggest shock of the event, defending Heritage Series champion, Mendy Fry, in the dominating "High Speed Motorsports" car is parked, at least temporarily, and possibly permanently. This follows the unexpected and tragic passing of team owner/tuner/guiding light Tom Shelar last summer. Another non-entrant was the lone Canadian car, the indefatigible Phil Ruskowski with his Victoria, BC-based "Xhibitionist" small-block Chevy-powered entry. Phil has been dealing with some health issues over the winter and just wasn't ready to make the trip south this year.


AA/FD - Dan Horan Jr. --- AA/FD - Jim Murphy - 'WWIII'

(LEFT) Hopping out of his Nostalgia Funny Car into his Top Fuel car, Dan Horan Jr. put down a strong opening lap of 5.805 - 250.04 to take the #3 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Many time (4-time and counting...) winner of the March Meet, in the last decade and stretching all the way back to the early 1970's, Jim Murphy in his "WWIII" entry lit up the tires on the launch and slowly rolled down the track to a 12-second clocking that left him 11th in the 8-car field.

AA/FD - Frank McBee Jr. - 'Valley Thunder' --- AA/FD - Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young'

(LEFT) The "Valley Thunder Racing" car of Frank McBee Jr. ran well to half track, then slowed to a 6.586 - 157.03 to slide into the bump spot, but with two more qualifying sessions on tap, the Thunder team knew they had some work ahead of them if they wanted to be running on Sunday.

(RIGHT) The Mike Fuller Motorsports "Forever Young" car under the ultra-capable controls of multi-talented Bret Williamson ran strong almost all the way to the finish line, stopping the clocks at 5.915 - 231.71, good enough for the #5 position after the first day of qualifying.

AA/FD - Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' --- AA/FD - Rick White - 'Autopower'

(LEFT) All the way from Cincinatti, OH in a brand-new J. Ed Horton chassis, Tyler Hilton in the Jim & Alison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" showed some big-block Chevy power with a very good 5.930 - 224.81 pass, good enough for the #6 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) The Neal & White "Autopower" entry, driven by veteran Rick White ran into major problems as he oiled the track and earned a DQ for the effort. Heritage Series rules automatically disqualify a timeslip whenever an oildown occurs. It's drastic, but necessary, and has helped lessen the amount of downtown at these events.

AA/FD - Brendan Murry - 'Running Wild' --- AA/FD - Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop'

(LEFT) Another tale of two halves (as in track), as Brendan Murry in his "Running Wild" entry ran hard to the 660' clocks, then slowed to a 6.644 - 144.95 that left him just outside the field as the first session bump spot ended up at Frank McBee Jr.'s 6.586 e.t.

(RIGHT) The most unique-appearing car in the field - or almost any field for that matter - is the "Champion Speed Shop" small-block Chevy-powered car driven by second-generation Top Fuel pilot Adam Sorokin and he stayed on the throttle a little longer than Murry, but his 6.769 - 171.66 ended up one notch lower than the Running Wild's #9 position. Despite the lack of jaw-dropping performances in the first qualifier, as the e.t.'s ranged from #1 qualfier Pete Wittenberg's 5.731 down to #8 Frank McBee Jr.'s aforementioned 6.586 pass.


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session 2


AA/FC - Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity' --- AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak'

AA/FC - Matt Bynum - Matthews Motorsports --- AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour'

AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- AA/FC -

AA/FC - --- AA/FC -

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Boby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special'

AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler'

AA/FC - Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' --- AA/FC - James Day - Speed Sport Special

AA/FC - Rian Konno - Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno --- AA/FC - Bill Windham - 'Shakedown'

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0'


NITRO PRO COMP - Qualifying Session 1


NPC - Billy McDevitt --- NPC - Mike Halstead

NPC - Rick Rogers --- NPC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

NPC - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak' --- NPC - Rodney Flournoy - 'Hot Wheels'


Wheelstander


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The latest update as of March 6, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Thursday testing pictures, notes and results from Bakersfield

The March Meet started with a "test 'n tune" for the nitro-burning cars and 25 of them took advantage of the session to acclimate themselves to the AutoClub Famoso Raceway surface. There were some great passes, led by nitro newcomer Mike Peck from Washington state, who put down a very good 5.749 - 253.14 that surpassed even the dragsters. We've got a bunch of photos of some of the entrants, including a few new cars and new looks for others.

AA/FD - Jim Murphy - 'WW3' --- AA/FD - Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special'

(LEFT) Coming out for his umpeenth season of nitro racing (he dates back to the late 1960's) is four-time March Meet champion Jim Murphy in his "WW III" entry. He shut off early to a 6.025 - 188.96

(RIGHT) A car that's been around for quite a while with Rick McGee driving is under new management with Tyler Hester handling the driving duties on the "Overtime Special" and he ran to the 1000' mark before pulling the pin to a 6.182 - 174.62 clocking.

AA?FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Cory Lee - 'The Pedaler'

(LEFT) Hoping for much better results this year (he crashed in testing at this event last year) is Matt Bynum driving the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro and he ran straight and strong until shutting off early (recurring theme, eh?) to a 6.181 - 171.23 clocking.

(RIGHT) A true "jack of all trades" in drag racing is veteran Cory Lee who's been driving Gary Turner's "Pedaler" for the past few years, and he ran strong right out of the box with a 6.080 at - you guessed it, another sub-200 speed - 192.47 mph.

AA/FC - Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' --- AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child'

(LEFT) The purple-flamed "Capitol Punishment" Camaro of Tony Jurado didn't have the best numbers of the session with a 6.793 at only 127.86.

(RIGHT) Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro got off the loud pedal early, posting a 6.325 - 161.46.

AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' --- AA/FC - Dan Horan - 'Infinity Plumbing'

(LEFT) The long-time fuel racer out of Canada, Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro carded a 5.955 - 228.58 to show that he's ready to rumble at Bakersfield again.

(RIGHT) Rebounding quickly from his disastrous exhibition appearance at the recent Winternationals, where he put his car into the catchnet when the chutes failed, Dan Horan Jr. pounded out a 5.942 - 218.05 on an easy pass to open his weekend.

AA/FC - #665 - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FA - Kevin Von - 'Nasty Benjamin'

(LEFT) Here's a new one to us, a '69 Camaro named "Atomic Punk" that we know nothing about, other than it ran in the test session. We're waiting for more info from our (t)rusty correspondent "Big" Bob Snyder and the "oracle" of results, Drag Race Central. The official word is that it's Don Knoblauch from Sumner, WA.

(RIGHT) This name ("Nasty Benjamin") has been around the nitro ranks for five decades now and Dave Benjamin is still running strong. We haven't got the new driver's name yet, but it did run a solid 6.649 - 150.85 with the chutes out early. UPDATE: The driver is ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess from Lake Havasu City, AZ.

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker'

(LEFT) The Bob Godfrey "Burnin' Money" '72 'Cuda didn't get very far before running into problems that left a 14.956 at only 46.21 mph on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) One of the big guns in the class, from Sturgeon, AB is Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro and he didn't have a very good opening pass either, with a 9.421 - 88.56 coming up on the clocks.

AA/FC - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak' --- AA/FC - Dean Oberg - 'Fighting Irish'

(LEFT) Down from Oregon is the Dan Hix driven "Meanstreak" Camaro and it might need some more fine-tuning after posting a test number of 7.545 - 123.13.

(RIGHT) We're not sure who's driving the "Fighting Irish" car this year - it's been around for quite a while with several different owners and drivers - but we do know that it's got Charlie O'Neill's name on the side. A bit of sleuthing just provided the answer as it's Dean Oberg behind the butterfly (wheel) instead of his usual ride, the "Holy Toledo" Jeep. PS: It ran 10.898 - 71.83 on a shakedown pass.

AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic' --- AA/FA - Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor'

(LEFT) Here's the Panic" fuel altered of Shawn Van Horn burning out in the period-correct example of a true AA/FA.

(RIGHT) An evil-looking car with the BIG wings (front and rear) is the "Witch Doctor" of Keith Wilson. Unfortunately we have no times for these fuel altereds.

AA/FA - Eric Gates -'' --- AA/FA - Mike Halstead - ''

Here's two more AA/Fuel Altereds, both without any numbers to report from the test session, but we know it's (LEFT) Eric Gates and (RIGHT) Mike Halstead.

AA/FA - Ron Capps - 'Good News'

Taking a bit of a "busman's holiday", big show Funny Car driver Ron Capps slid in behind the wheel of the "Good News" Fiat and made his first AA/Fuel Altered pass of the season. This year he's hoping for better results at the March Meet.


--- NHRA Division Two logo --- Baby Gators

NHRA Eastern Regional Opener at Gainesville, FL

Happening just a week before the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals the first Eastern Regional event of the season is taking place at Gainesville Raceway. It's the perfect opportunity for sportsman and pro sportsman racers to fine-tune their cars before the first east coast national event of the 2020 season. Taking full advantage of the well-prepped track are 12 Top Alcohol Dragsters and a like number of Funny Cars. And there's some real heavy hitters in the pits.

First Qualifying Session

There were quite a few aborted runs in the first qualifying session, as pair after pair of Funny Cars failed to hook up or stay in the groove, and when the smoke cleared, only two-time defending NHRA world champion Greg Bellemeur had put down a representative run at 5.574 - 270.37 that featured a quick pedal at the top of low gear to get through tireshake. Second on the list was Kris Hool with a lacklustre 5.958 - 257.48 and the field wound down to the #8 qualifier (Dan Pomponio) at 9.394.

Top Alochol Dragster didn't start much better as the first three pairs failed to break into the 5-second zone, until Mick Steele ran a solid 5.485 - 269.29 to break the string of mediocre - or worse - runs. The last two pairs of the opening qualifier saw some BIG numbers posted as Josh Hart ran a career best 5.162 - 280.84 to top the field, and right beside him, Julie Nataas nearly matched his mark with a 5.209 - 273.88 for the #2 spot. The final pair of the round saw Jackie Fricke steal the #2 spot away from Nataas with a great 5.192 - 272.50. The bump spot for the dragsters ended up at 10.246, held by the only blown alcohol car in the field, Tom Fox Jr.

Second Qualifying Session

The second qualifying session saw some marked improvements from the Funny Cars as the first pair out of the lanes saw D.J. Cox jump all the way to the top of the field with a very good 5.476 - 264.03. Interestingly, in the other lane, Winternationals winner Aryan Rochon went oh-for-two as he spun the tires on the launch again. The next pair saw both racers step up, as last week's South Central regional winner Annie Whiteley moved into the #2 spot at 5.486 - 273.05. Running alongside her was Matt Gill and his 5.591 - 266.95 moved him into the #4 position.

The round continued with Doug Gordon picking up the pace, running 5.487 - 269.56 - a very good pass - but it only put him in the #3 spot. Even worse, that didn't keep him there as Greg Bellemeur in the final pair, put down the run he wanted with a great 5.463 - 271.84 to move back on top. The round closed with the bump spot moving down from the 9.394 of the first session to the 6.099 of former NHRA world champion Jonnie Lindberg.

The dragsters saw similar major improvements as the round opened with Will Smith shaved ten seconds of his first effort, moving into #4 with a 5.381 - 269.56 pass. The first pair of the round saw both racers move into the field, with Rich McPhillips Jr. (replacing Troy Coughlin Jr. and Rich McPhillips Sr. in the cockpit) blasted out a #3 qualifying 5.203 - 276.92 while the blown car of Tom Fox Jr. ran a near career best of 5.275 - 273.55 to slot into the #5 spot, and move the bubble down to Mick Steele's first session 5.485 clocking.

In the next pair, Steele failed to better his time and stayed on the bubble and the rest of the runners also failed to move up in the order. A notable absence from the staging lanes was long-time national event runner Jeff Veale from Ontario who stayed in the pits working on the car, missing the first two chances to qualify.

Third (final) Qualifying Session

With four cars sitting on the outside going into the final session, it was go fast or go home time. Aryan Rochon struck the tires early and the Winternationals winner failed to qualify in his homestate event. In the first pairing of the round, Dan Pomponio pedaled his way to a spot on the bubble at 6.058 - 248.89 but it certainly wasn't a comfortable spot with a number of hitters still waiting to run. And it didn't take long for that bubble to evaporate as in the next pair Joshua Haskett booted him out with a 5.894 - 241.37 to jump up to the #7 spot and put Kris Hool on the bump with his earlier 5.958. Since Hool had already run he had no way to defend his position either.

Taking full advantage of his plight was Jonnie Lindberg who used up all of his lane as he fought the car all the way to the finish line and a great 5.457 - 267.80 time that put him at the top of the ladder. But that only lasted until Annie Whiteley ran in the final pair of qualifying and lit up the scoreboards BIG TIME with a 5.397 - 274.66 to move back to the #1 position and seal the field that was anchored by Haskett's 5.89 pass. Of note is that Ulf Leanders failed to come back for the second and third sessions after wounding an engine in the first qualifier.

The final session for the dragsters saw a number of no-shows as only 9 of the 12 cars appeared in the lanes. Missing the show entirely was Jeff Veale, and Tom Fox Jr. and Josh Hart decided to sit out and save parts for tomorrow's eliminations. The first car out of the waterbox, Jeff Chatterson from Ontario bumped Steele out with a good 5.426 - 263.10 to take the #7 spot and move Duane Shields (5.449) down to the bump. And that precarious position didn't last long as Mick Steele jumped back into the field with a 5.435 - 267.06 for the #8 spot. Shields ran next and ran a seven cylinder 5.552 to stay in the #9 position.

Other notable passes in the final two pairs saw Rich McPhillips Jr. nearly match his earlier 5.203 with a 5.209 coupled with a big speed of 280.54 and Julie Nataas's 5.268 - 275.45 was a nice backup to her earlier 5.209 pass. And that's a wrap for qualifying.

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The latest update as of March 5, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Wednesday testing pictures from Bakersfield

AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

AA/FC - Bill Windham - 'Shakedown' --- AA/FC - Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno'

AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard'

AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports'

AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!'

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin'

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk'

AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane) --- AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane)

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane)

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk'

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special'

AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money'

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money'

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money'

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

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The latest update as of March 4, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

Pre-Entry List for AA/Fuel Dragster at the Good Vibations March Meet

Here's the list: Adam Sorokin "Champion Speed Shop Special", Tyler Hester (replacing Rick McGee) "Overtime Special", Tyler Hilton "Great Expectations III", Dan Horan Jr. "Nitro Hemi", Jim Murphy "WW3", Pete Wittenberg "KMA Circuit Breaker", Brendan Murry "Running Wild", Dusty Green "Triple Threat", Bret Williamson "Forever Young", Rick White "Autopower", Bryan Hall "H&H Nomad", Frank McBee Jr. "Valley Thunder"

Notably absent from the list is the two-time defending NHRA Heritage Series champion, Mendy Fry in the "High Speed Motorsports" entry which is currently parked, with no timetable for a return to competition. Sadly, the stalwart Canadian entry of Victoria's Phil Ruskowski ("The Xhibitionist") is also not on the pre-entry list.

We haven't seen an entry list for the Nostalgia Funny Cars but a Facebook search showed that Tim Nemeth ("The Iceman") is loaded up and heading south. And the new "Quarter Pounder" of Dale Van Gundy and Keith Clark , driven by Geoff Monise ran at last week's test 'n' tune and is ready to race.


The latest update as of March 2, 2020

--- Good Vibrations March Meet

We're still THREE DAYS away from the start of the Good Vibrations March Meet and event news is already coming in thick and fast. There was a very succesful Test 'n Tune held over the weekend and NHRA has provided lots of coverage with pictures and some numbers on their website. To save time clicking on the link, here's the skinny on the who, what, when and where.

The defending NHRA Heritage Series champion in Nostalgia Funny Car, Bobby Cottrell ran a 5.92 on Saturday; A/Fuel champ Drew Austin put down a solid 5.98 at 204 mph; NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car champion (two years running) Greg Bellemeur brought out his family's TA/FC with an altered body in place and ran 6.30's testing a new A/Fuel combination. In case you're wondering how a top alcohol engine fits into A/FUEL, the rules in that class allow injected nitro or supercharged methanol. Just like NHRA's Top Alcohol Dragster class.

A couple of second generation racers came out to test, including Sabrina Capps in George Murphy's A/Fuel dragster and Thais Flournoy in the family's Nostalgia Eliminator I altered. Quite a few Nitro Nostalgia FC's were running, including some of the heavy hitters such as Jeff Arend in the familiar "California Hustler" Trans-Am, Billy Morris in his "Problem Child" Camaro, "Hollywood" Kris Krabill in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" Challenger, and sporting a whole new car with a Firebird body, Geoff Monise in the Van Gundy, Clark & Monise "Quarter Pounder".

Doing a little sleuthing on Facebook (you can't hide ANYTHING on the 'net nowadays!) shows a very straight (early shutoff) first run that clocked a .911 60' time, followed by a full pull on the second hit that rang in at 5.91 - 245. Looks like they're ready to run with the fast guys at Famoso this week.

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Good Vibrations March Meet

The latest update as of March 1, 2020

Good Vibrations March Meet

In case you haven't been paying attention, there are now only FOUR days until the 62nd annual Good Vibrations March Meet starts with nitro testing and sportsman qualifying on this coming Thursday. At this point in the nascent drag racing season, almost all roads lead to Bakersfield. If you're planning to attend, it's time to toss a suitcase in the car/truck/bus and start driving.

--- NHRA Division Four logo --- Nitro On The Bayou --- No Problem Raceway logo

NHRA South Central Regional opener

On the other side of the country, eliminations have begun at the first NHRA Lucas Oil regional evemt of the 2020 season, in Belle Rose, LA. Leading off was last year's Top Alcohol Dragster world champion, Megan Meyer, and she finished an absolutely forgettable weekend with another tough pass, 16.98 - 72.69 to fall to Dean Dubbin's better - but not world beating - 6.71 - 140.30, as he put Megan back in the trailer. Thedre's been a delay in further results coming through so there may have been an oildown in that first pairing. More news as it comes.

Just found a link to a live video feed of the event, courtesy of our friends at Competition Plus and it shows the end of a cleanup and re-prep of the track. Winding the video back shows the news that Dubbin's car broke the rearend after a very good (.913 60') launch and excellent (2.376 at 330') before the rear went poof and shut the car off. Here's the link to the video coverage: Div. 4 Season Opener

When they finally got back to racing, low qualifier Jackie Fricke continued to struggle with another tire shaker after her opening run of 5.28 in qualifying. Her 10.887 clocking got her into the semifinals but almost certainly without lane choice. Then it was time for Rachel Meyer to put a holeshot on Robin Samsel and her 5.379 - 268.99, outlasted Samsel's 5.362 - 264.95 to keep the Randy Meyer team moving forward into the semifinals. And judging by the track announcer's take on Dubbin's disastrous run, Meyer could end up with a competition bye directly into the final round.

The first round of eliminations concluded with a match between two A/Fuel cars, and #5 qualifier Duane Shields took on #4 Spencer Massey in what turned into another holeshot decision. Massey left first (.054 to .074) by two hundredths, then paced Shields to the finish line, taking the winlight with a 5.455 - 270.61 to Shields' fast-closing 5.472 - 274.32. Despite the big top-end speed, Shields fell three thousandths short at the stripe. And that was the end of a very interesting and competitive first round of eliminations.

Funny Car was up next and Anne Marie Whiteley came out first, on her bye run, clocking a very strong 5.522 - 268.22 to continue her string of good runs throughout the event. The first pairing of eliminations featured Shane Westerfield who had qualified at the bottom of the field, to face the #2 qualifier, Bob McCosh and it proved to be another incredibly close race, with a win margin of .003 for McCosh, whose 5.541 - 264.22 barely held off Westerfield's 5.571 - 268.24.

Things slowed down a little in the next race as Bryan Brown took an easy win over Bill Bernard, by a margin of 5.564 - 263.75 to 13.061 - 84.07. Bernard was all over the track early, almost taking out the 330' cone as the car swung wildly from side to side before he wisely shut off. The final pair of the round featured a pair of national contenders, but the magic evaporated for Winternats winner Aryan Rochon as he got very close to the wall before pulling the chutes and coasting to a 6.442 - 164.01 clocking. In the other lane, Kris Hool pedalled through some tire shake but still put a winning 5.984 - 257.42 up on the finish line boards to advance to the semifinals against Whiteley.

2:00 PM UPDATE

The first pair of the semi-final turned into a (as expected) competition bye for Rachel Meyer as scheduled opppnent Dean Dubbin did not have the parts or time or manpower to repair all the damage from his first round victory lap. Rachel didn't have any of the problems her sister Megan experienced during the weekend, as Rachel cruised to a 5.350 - 269.61 to advance to the final round. The other semi was decided quickly as Spencer Massey left quickly with an .031 light but the car jumped up on the tires into instant tire smoke and a 19-second run, while Jackie Fricke motored through with a lane choice winning 5.328 - 268.96 to set up an all-female final.

In Funny Car, the two high country cars met in the first semi and Anne Whiteley worked hard for a 5.887 to 7.214 victory as she experienced serious tire shake, while in the other lane, Kris Hool had worse luck with a shaking, twisting race car that caused him to give up the run early. The final pair of the round saw both cars get down the track with good numbers and a minimum of difficulty, with Bob McCosh taking the win (5.604 - 263.57) over a close 5.643 - 263.67 effort by Bryan Brown. To make the gap a little larger at the finish, McCosh left first too, .026 to .050. A great race and it set up the final between McCosh (with lane choice) and Whiteley.

3:00 PM UPDATE

The race is still in progress and the final round won't be run for at least another hour. And it's looking like that prediction of finals time was a little too optimistic as a Comp eliminator racer (Ashton Hudson who had just taken the winlight against Brad Plourd) hit the wall shortly after he crossed the finish line and the track crew is cleaning up the parts and pieces that came off the damaged car. Based on the length of time it took to clear up Dean Dubbin's broken rear end in the first round of Top Alcohol, it's going to be a late finish for the event so we'll probably be posting the final results tomorrow.

3:30 PM UPDATE

Surprise, surprise! They got the track cleaned up quickly at No Problem Raceway and the Top Alcohol final rounds were just completed. On the dragster side, it was Rachel Meyer taking the "Wally" in a fairly close one over Jackie Fricke. They were less than two hundredths apart on elapsed time, but Rachel's quicker (.028 to .086) leave gave her a true win margin of more than seven hundredths at the finish line. The numbers: 5.347 - 268.62 (Meyer) and 5.365 - 269.64 for Fricke in the John Finke Construction machine.

Closing out the Pro Sportsman show were the Funny Cars and the favourite Annie Whiteley ran away from final round opponent Bob McCosh to take the win. Although he left first (.031 to .091), McCosh rattled the tires in second gear and struggled to regain momentum as he slowed to a 6.024 - 203.22, while Whiteley powered on through with a victorious 5.557 - 268.72 to open her season on a winning note. And that's a wrap on the first NHRA Lucas Oil regional event of 2020.

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Funny Car Chaos --- Event Flyer Lufkin, TX Funny Car Chaos

Yes, it's almost that time again as the 2020 FUNNY CAR CHAOS season is starting in less than two weeks at Lufkin, TX's Pine Valley Raceway. It will be the first of eight events on this year's FCC schedule and it promises to be the kickoff to an even bigger and better season of "Outlaw" Funny Car racing. Best of all, our photographer, Bob Snyder, has committed to attending all the events this season, upping his participation by the two events he missed at the end of last season due to illness.


The latest update as of February 29, 2020

Good Vibrations March Meet

Good Vibrations March Meet

Time is drawing very near for the traditonal nostalgia season opener, with the first (of eight) events on the NHRA Heritage Series calendar starting next Thursday, March 5 at AutoClub Famoso Raceway. By my reckoning, it's the 62nd annual Good Vibrations March Meet and it promises to uphold the long tradition of large fields, large spectator attendance, large performances, and some great times for everyone involved. Rumours in cyberspace are predicting at least 25 AA/Funny Cars, more than a dozen AA/Fuel Dragsters, a similar number of AA/Fuel Altereds, a handful of A/Fuel Dragsters and when it's all added up, more than 60 fuel-burning entries in total.

We've got ace lensman "Big" Bob Snyder attending the race on our behalf and he'll start providing photos and details as soon as the gates open at Famoso. We'll be updating this page with our coverage of the race throughout next weekend and well into the following week. As always, it's going to be a work in progress and you'll have to be sure to refresh this page whenver you visit. And remember: all race photos are small versions so click on them to see the larger image.

NHRA Lucas Oil Regional Series begins

Starting yesterday, the first of 25 races on the NHRA Lucas Oil Regional Series schedule kicked off at Belle Rose, LA's "No Problem Raceway". It's the first chance for the Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars to begin accumulating regional points towards the NHRA National/World championship. It's followed by the "Baby Gators" regional in Gainesville, FL next weekend that is the prelude to the 60th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

There's seven Top Alcohol Dragsters in attendance at Belle Rose, including the 2019 NHRA World Champion, Megan Meyer, perennial contenders Duane Shields (#5 in 2019) and Jackie Fricke (#8 in 2019). Also in the field is Megan's sister Rachel Meyer in the second Randy Meyer Racing entry. So far it hasn't been a good weekend for the Meyer sisters, with two of three qualifying sessions in the books, as Megan is "oh for two" with an 11-second pass followed by a 17-second coaster. Rachel skipped the first session but could only put down a 6.74 at 204.54 in the second.

Jackie Fricke on the other hand, blasted out a 5.283 - 273.32 opener, to lead Dean Dubbin and Spencer Massey, who clocked side-by-side 5.55's, with both drivers shutting off early. The only other note-worthy pass so far this weekend was laid down by Robin Samsel in the second round, ringing up a 5.47 at 259 to take the second spot on the ladder going into the final qualifier this afternoon.

On the Funny Car side, three of the Top Ten runners from last season are in the field, with Anne Marie Whiteley (#5 in 2019) leading the way in the first qualifier with a 5.575 at nearly 270 mph (269.80), followed closely by the 2020 Winternationals winner Aryan Rochon at 5.61 and Bryan Brown with a 5.63 for the #3 position. Last year's #3 in the national standings, Shane Westefield trailed badly with an 11-second pass, and last season's #7 nationally, Kris Hool, posted a 7.575.

The second round saw Whiteley improve to a 5.499 - 270.63 to hang on to the top spot, as Bob McCosh trailed only slightly with a very strong 5.511 - 266.98 (career best) for #2 and Brown improved slightly to a 5.60 (from a 5.63) to stay in the #4 spot. With the final qualifier scheduled within the hour, we'll see if the eliminations ladders change much. Stay tuned!

6:00 PM UPDATE

There wasn't a major shuffling of the deck in the final qualifying sessions, as Jackie Fricke held onto the top spot with his first round 5.28, but Dean Dubbin stepped up to a near career best, carding a 5.356 - 268.80 to vault into the second spot on the ladder. There was absolutely nothing good to write about the injected nitro cars as Megan Meyer and Jackie Fricke failed to get down the track, and Rachel Meyer pedalled her way to a 6.903 at - are you ready for this? - 265.27 mph to remain in the #6 position. With just seven cars in the field, Fricke will have the first round bye.

On the Funny (Car) side of the pits, Shane Westerfield was still in a world of hurt, as his previous "best" of 11.64 wasn't bettered by a 12.77 to leave him at the bottom of the field. The only improvement was recorded by a steadily improving Bryan Brown as he went from a first session 5.63 to a 5.60, and in the final session, a 5.573 - 256.22 that only trailed Whiteley and McCosh going into eliminations.

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The latest update as of February 25, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

An old Yogi Berra saying goes: "it ain't over until it's over".... and in the case of NHRA Mello Yello events, that is very true. After four days of prepping and racing at Wild Horse Motorsports Park, quite a few of the big show nitro teams remained on the property to test on Monday. Ace Reporter Bob Snyder was there - with his camera and notebook - to document all the action.... or at least all that happened before he left to beat the rush hour going home. Besides the eight nitro teams in attendance, a Pro Stock (?) car, and a couple of Top Dragsters made laps.


TF - Doug Kalitta --- TF - Doug Kalitta

Following up on a very succesful start to the season (Winternationals win and Arizona Nats runner-up) Doug Kalitta turned over the Kalitta #1 car to Shawn Langdon for the day and watched him run a best of 3.76. On the left side, it looks like it took a little extra help to get Shawn going in reverse after a burnout.

FC - John Force --- FC - Robert Hight

(LEFT) It's the "Old Truck Driver" hisself, as John Force as he made what must be his millionth lap in a nitro flopper, but his two efforts on the day ended with a best of only 4.67.

(RIGHT) The President of John Force Racing, on the other hand, put down a big number as Robert Hight cranked out a 3.88 - 328 mph.

TF - Austin Prock --- TD - Chris Menapeace

(LEFT) Coming off a real high with a runner-up finish at the Winternationals, second year pro Austin Prock fell hard with a tiresmoking first round loss at the Arizona Nationals. Consequently, they were out testing the Montana Brands Top Fueler before heading east to Gainesville.

(RIGHT) Coming out in an ex-Jerry Darien Top Alcohol dragster that's now set up for Top Dragster, Chris Menapeace (Clay Millican crewman), ran a very good 6.18 opening lap before handing the car over to Sarah Moldenhauer (more on that further down the page).

--- TF - Josh Hart --- TF - Josh Hart

(LEFT) Here's the newest Top Fuel licensee, as A/Fuel Dragster pilot, Josh Hart took the next step at Wild Horse Pass on Monday.

(RIGHT) Running a Bob Vandergriff Racing car adorned with new bodywork, Josh fulfilled the T/F requirements with two very good passes: a 3.74 and 3.77.

FC - Alexis DeJoria --- FC - Alexis DeJoria

Starting her return to NHRA competition on a strong note, Alexis DeJoria went to the semi-finals at Pomona, but dropped a first round match at Phoenix. With the car seemingly stuck in the low 3.90's, some testing in Arizona was on the menu. However it was a case of "same old, same old" as her best of the day was a 3.93. Not bad, but still off the pace she needs to run deep into eliminations on a regular basis.

TS - Jason McGaha --- FC - John Force

(LEFT) The lettering on the "passenger" door says Jason McGaha but without any identifying numbers or lettering, there's no way of knowing what class the car or driver will run in. There is Harlow-Sammons on the door, but that's the only clue we've got.

(RIGHT) Another shot of John Force, who as reported above, could only run a best of 4.67 on the day.

TF - Austin Prock --- Clay Millican - Back-Up Boy

(LEFT) Another shot of a hard launch by Austin Prock but we don't have any numbers on how well the car ran.

(RIGHT) Taking a big step out of his comfort zone was the Parts Plus Top Fuel pilot, Clay Millican who served as the "Back-Up Boy" for Sarah Moldenhauer. After a few hours of fun, Clay had to head for the airport to catch a flight home.

TD - Sarah Moldenhauer --- FC - Bob Tasca III

(LEFT) Here's Sarah Moldenhauer who was upgrading her license from Super Comp in the new (to him) Chris Menapeace Top Dragster.

(RIGHT) Working out the bugs in the new car/crew combination, Bob Tasca III saw some good numbers come up on the boards as a 3.88 - 327 mph was displayed. A good way to head into the next event on the schedule, the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals.

TF - Joey Haas --- TF - Joey Haas

The big story of the day from our reporter's perspective were a pair licensing passes for Joey Haas in the Terry Totten car. After a hard wheels-up launch, Haas got up on the tires quickly and ran a very impressive 3.95 - 292 mph. The plan is for him to finish licensing after the 4-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas in early April. Good to see a VERY low-buck team run some serious numbers on a well-prepared track.

FC - J.R. Todd

Following consecutive first round losses at the Winternationals and Phoenix, the Kalitta/DHL Funny Car, piloted by former (2018) world champion J.R. Todd laid down a best of 3.94 on the day.

TD - Jennifer Wiens --- TD - Jennifer Wiens

The test session wasn't limited to strictly BIG SHOW nitro cars as Las Vegas-based Top Dragster racer Jennifer Wiens was out testing her car after running as quick as 6.14 - 230 mph during qualifying at the Arizona Nationals. She ran even better than that in the first round of eliminations, but a 6.09 - 229 on a 6.14 dial-in left a first round runner-up.

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The latest update as of February 24, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

Here's all the final round pictures from the NHRA Arizona Nationals.


BIG TIRE SHOOTOUT

Big Tire Shootout --- Big Tire Shootout crash

While these pictures weren't the final round of the "Big Tire Shootout" exhibition, they aptly portrayed what can happen when you combine a very powerful turbocharged engine with small tires. When the turbo power kicks in full-tilt, it can overpower even a big tire car. Thankfully, the driver walked away from this wreck after a series of scary moments that culminated in a hard smack into the guardwall.


STOCK & SUPER STOCK

STK - Jon Irving (near lane) vs 
Brad Burton (far lane) --- SS - Justin Lamb (near lane) vs 
Kyle Rizzoli (far lane)

(LEFT) After six gruelling rounds of eliminations, Snohomish, WA's Brad Burton (far lane) overcame the handicap head start of Jon Irving (near lane) for the Stock Eliminator victory. Burton's wheelstanding D/SA '72 Firebird ran just over his dial-in as Irving gave away what could have been a sure victory by breaking out after leaving first by .032 in his I/SA '73 Satellite.

(RIGHT) It's another wheelie picture, with #2 in the world in 2019, Kyle Rizzoli (far lane) leaving hard in his SS/CA '69 Camaro enroute to the Super Stock win over the SS/AS '10 Cobalt of Justin Lamb (near lane). Both racers ran right on their dial-in, but Rizzoli's .001 light (versus Lamb's .042) sealed the deal.


SUPER GAS & SUPER COMP

SG - Matthew Larson (near lane) vs 
Ed Olpin Jr. (far lane) --- SC - Val Torres (near lane) vs 
Cal Belden (far lane)

(LEFT) It's a pair of topless '63 'Vettes (the de rigeur choice in S/G due to the wide-open peripheral vision) in the Super Gas final, and it was a reaction time victory for Ed Olpin Jr. (far lane) over Matthew Larson (near lane). Olpin's near-perfect .001 leave (.052 for Larson) coupled with a .043 over the index defeated Larson's closer .032, and when the math all added up it was a four hundredths of a second margin for the winner.

(RIGHT) The Super Comp final featured another incredible light, as Val Torres (near lane) was perfect on the tree (.000), while opponent Cal Belden (far lane) cut it just a smidgen too close, red-lighting by just .005 to hand the automatic win to Torres. With his 8th national event victory in hand, Torres coasted slowly into the winner's circle with a 13-second e.t., while Belden added insult to injury by breaking out (-.003) on the big end to lose the race at both ends of the track.


TOP SPORTSMAN & TOP DRAGSTER

TS - Ed Olpin (near lane) vs 
Paul Mitsos (far lane) --- TD - Art Hoover (near lane) vs 
Phil Unruh (far lane)

(LEFT) Top Sportsman showcased a wide assortment of door cars and when the finalists rolled out of the lanes, it was MountainView Tires Paul Mitsos (far lane) taking the win in his '08 Dodge Stratus, cutting a great .003 light and running less than three hundredths off his dial-in. In the other (near) lane, Ed Olpin in his '68 Camaro cut a very good - but not good enough - light at .023, and ran just a little more off his dial-in (.035) to give Mitsos the win by a total margin of .027 seconds.

(RIGHT) As the name implies, this final featured two Top Dragsters, with Art Hoover (near lane) cutting the better reaction time, (.012 to .059) and forcing his opposition Phil Unruh (far lane) to break out in a vain attempt to catch him at the stripe. Hoover's 6.603 - 198.93 pass was just three thousandths from his dial, while Unruh's 6.346 - 223.21 was four thousandths too quick. A close race and interesting for the spectators to watch a high-speed bracket race.


COMPETITION & TOP FUEL HARLEY

COMP - Doug Lambeck (near lane) vs
Dean Carter (far lane) --- TFH - Jay Turner (near lane) vs 
Ricky House (far lane)

(LEFT) With the odd-sized 15-car field, Competition Eliminator featured plenty of bye runs, as both finalists, Doug Lambeck (near lane) in his D/SMA '08 Sunfire and Dean Carter (far lane) B/ND front-engine dragster, received two free runs in the four rounds before they met in the final. You might be wondering how a 15-car field could go five rounds of eliminations.... and the simple answer is that the field was set up for 32-cars and that's the ladder the NHRA went with. Still wondering? Don't ask me! Both drivers cut average lights but Carter gave up a bunch of index, going .646 under to cover Lambeck's .575 under effort. Check out the NHRA rulebook for an explanation of how the index system works in Comp... but allow an hour or two to absorb it all.

(RIGHT) The final round of Top Fuel Harley was a bit of a non-event as Ricky House (far lane) redlighted to give the automatic win to national record holder Jay Turner who ran into lots of trouble after launching and coasted across the finish line in 9-secons at less than 100 mph. The entire TFH eliminator started off on the wrong foot, with one no show, one broke before staging, one broke after staging, and one 15-second run in the opening round of eliminations. The only bright spot of that opening round was Turner's awesome 6.193 - 237.75 pass that he nearly duplicated in the semi-final with a 6.209 - 233.76. To put those runs in perspective, no one else ran quicker than 6.63 in eliminations.


PRO STOCK

PS - Bo Butner (near lane) vs 
Erica Enders (far lane)


FUNNY CAR

FC - Tommy Johnson Jr. (near lane) vs 
Jack Beckman (far lane)


TOP FUEL

TF - Doug Kalitta (near lane) vs 
Steve Torrence (far lane)

Going into the final round, everything seemed to be working in Doug Kalitta's favour. He opened the season two weeks ago with a convincing victory at the Lucas Oil Winternationals, and had worked his way through the full 16-car field with quicker passes in each round leading up to the final. His race day performance was especially impressive after qualifying in the #8 position, with a decent 3.740 in the opening session, but failed to get past the 300' mark on his other two attempts.

Sunday was a different story however, as his first round 3.711 took out Shawn Reed, then Doug dropped into the 3.60's in the next stanza, taking out low qualifier Brittany Force on a holeshot, 3.695 to 3.685 to advance to the semifinals. In that crucial round, he took out Antron Brown with his best run of the weekend, dropping a 3.672 - 330.55 on the cylinder-dropping Brown to move into the final, with lane choice, against Steve Torrence.

Torrence meanwhile was hitting all the right notes throughout qualifying and eliminations. After a successful test session at Wild Horse three weeks ago, he and dad Billy decided to sit out the Winternationals. That decision sent some shockwaves through the drag racing community, and the reasons offered by Team Torrence for their non-appearance were difficult to accept at face value, but that was their choice. Right or wrong.

Pushing the politics to the side and getting down to business, Steve and Billy Torrence came off the trailer with all guns blazing, and ran side-by-side 3.74's in the first qualifying session, to take the #3 and #4 positions respectively. Then Steve cranked out a very strong 3.671 - 326.48 to take the pole after Friday's second session. He only lost the top spot to Brittany Force in Saturday's lone session by one-thousandth of a second, to start Sunday's eliminations from the #2 spot.

Despite taking an easy first round win over Jim Maroney by a 3.717 to 4.436 verdict, Steve was only the seventh quickest car of the round, with Brittany Force (3.643) and Leah Pruett (3.654) well in front of his performance. In fact, Torrence was outrun by father Billy, who put down a 3.683 to march towards what would be a semi-final match between the two Torrences. In the second round, Steve held lane choice over Shawn Langdon only by virtue of his slightly quicker speed, but got past Langdon in a tire-smoking pedalling duel at a less than scintillating 4.570 - 203.31 e.t.

That win set up the semi-final against Billy who had advanced over a tardy Leah Pruett in a 3.703 - 3.688 race that was decided by Leah's .205 reaction time. Going into the semi without lane choice on what was proving to be a tricky surface, Steve parlayed a superior light (.067 to .095) over his Dad as they ran nearly identical elapsed times and speeds: Steve's 3.698 - 329.58 took the winlight by half a car length over Billy's 3.699 - 329.91 pass.

That brought Doug Kalitta, on a seven-round winning streak, and holding lane choice, up against the 2019 World Champion, Steve Torrence, in what was shaping up to be quite a battle for the second title of the 2020 season. Both drivers reacted identically, but tire haze at half track undid Kalitta's bid for the win and Torrence cruised to victory with a blower banging 3.679 - 321.27 over Kalitta's slowing 4.052 - 218.90 in what was a fitting end to an exciting event.

Jay Mageau & Bob Snyder --- Clay Millican & Bob Snyder

Here's a couple of selfies from Bob Snyder's cell phone. On the left is well-known Canadian Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car owner/driver Jay Mageau, enjoying the Arizona sun for a while before he heads back to the Great White North. To the right is an even better known Top Fuel driver, Clay Millican who looks like he's "photobombing" Bob's picture.

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The latest update as of February 23, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

Scroll down a little to see all of Friday's qualifying photos, most of which are lacking captions (which will be filled in later today and tomorrow). We've got a few photos from yesterday's shortened (due to rain) final qualifying session which will be posted later today. Then we'll be receiving all the eliminations photos this evening and will get them posted tomorrow, along with the captions and editorial coverage on the event. Stay tuned!


TOP Fuel - Qualifying Session #3 (final)

TF - Doug Foley (near lane) - 
Scott Palmer (far lane) --- TF - Shawn Langdon (near lane) - 
Clay Millican (far lane)

(LEFT) Coming into the final qualifier, Doug Foley (near lane) was on the bubble, but he picked up a bunch of e.t. with a solid 3.878 - 311.13 pass to move up to the #13 spot. His opponent (far lane) Scott Palmer hazed the tires early and shut off to a 6-second pass to remain in the #11 spot.

(RIGHT) The next pair saw Shawn Langdon (near lane) finally shake the demons out of the DHL car and jumped from the last spot on the ladder all the way up to the #6 spot with a very good 3.733 - 325.45 pass. In the far lane, Clay Millican lost a spot, dropping to #10 as the chutes came out early on a 4.699 - 130.76 run.

TF - Antron Brown (near lane) - 
Shawn Reed (far lane) --- TF - Austin Prock (near lane) - 
Doug Kalitta (far lane)

(LEFT) You could title this pairing as "ZERO for TWO", with both Antron Brown (near lane) and Shawn Reed (far lane) running into trouble early and posting 7 and 8-second clockings. (RIGHT) And the next pair didn't fare much better, as Austin Prock (near lane) and Doug Kalitta (far lane) failed to break the 5-second barrier. (6.540 for Kalitta and 5.393 for Prock).

TF - Justin Ashley (near lane) - 
Terry McMillen (far lane) --- TF - Billy Torrence (near lane) - 
Brittany Force (far lane)

(LEFT) Things were looking up for a great side-by-sider as both cars ran well until the 660' mark, where (far lane) Terry McMillen's engine got unhappy, resulting in a 4-flat timeslip, while on near side, Justin Ashley laid down his best effort of the weekend, with an excellent 3.707 - 322.81 to move into the top half of the field at #5 on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Two of the heavy hitters faced off next, and while they both improved, Billy Torrence's (near lane), effort of 3.712 - 328.14 (his best qualifying pass) not helping him move up from #6, while in the far lane, Brittany Force bombed the scoreboard with low e.t. of qualifying at 3.670 - 327.11 to leapfrog over world champion Steve Torrence for the top qualifying spot.

TF - Leah Pruett (near lane) - 
Steve Torrence (far lane)

The final pair of qualifying matched up the #2 Steve Torrence - who held the top spot until Brittany Force usurped him in the previous pairing, against the #3 Leah Pruett but it didn't live up to the advance billing, as both cars were up in smoke early and limped to the 1000' mark in 6-seconds at less than 100 mph. Quite an anti-climax to what had been a very hit-and-miss final qualifying session.


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #3 (final)

FC - Terry Haddock --- FC - Paul Lee

(LEFT) Coming into this final session, Terry Haddock sat in the #15 position, and he didn't get a chance to improve on his 5-second best, as he never got off the starting line as the engine simply died as he moved into stage

(RIGHT) Sitting uncomfortably in the "lucky" #13 spot, Paul Lee failed to better his previous best of 4.257 - 210.37, as he lit up the tires right at the hit and limped to a 10-second e.t.

FC - Cruz Pedregpn (near lane) - 
Blake Alexander (far lane) --- FC - Alexis DeJoria (near lane) - 
Ron Capps (far lane)

(LEFT) In the near lane, Cruz Pedregon showed some consistency as he nearly matched his previous best (3.962 - 323.74) with a solid 3.964 - 325.14, but it couldn't move him off the #11 position. Blake Alexander (far lane) fared even worse as his 6-second pass left him in the #12 spot after a previous best of 3.974 - 319.75 in the Jim Head car.

(RIGHT) A great side by side match followed, as Alexis DeJoria, (near lane) ran her best of the weekend 3.916 - 316.30 to drop one spot to #10, as Ron Capps (far lane) moved up three positions with a great 3.896 - 327.66 effort.

FC - J.R. Todd (near lane) - 
Jack Beckman (far lane) --- FC - Tommy Johnson Jr. (near lane) - 
Bob Tasca III (far lane)

(LEFT) The hits didn't keep coming though as the next duo smoked the tires in unison and shut off to 5-second (Jack Beckman) (far lane) and 8-second (J.R. Todd) (near lane) clockings.

(RIGHT) It was one for two in the next matchup, as Tommy Johnson Jr. (near lane) made a big jump from #8 to #4 on the ladder, with an excellent 3.868 - 323.81 pass, while Bob Tasca III lost a spot to #5 with a 6-second pass, losing traction well before the 330' mark.

FC - Tim Wilkerson (near lane) - 
Robert Hight (far lane) --- FC - John Force (near lane) - 
Matt Hagan (far lane)

(LEFT) It was another one-sided pairing, as Tim Wilkerson (near lane), improved a fraction to 3.889 from a previous best of 3.893, at a big speed of 329.10 to hold on to the #7 spot, while Robert Hight was up in smoked very early and coasted to a 7-second time.

(RIGHT) The final pair of the session saw neither racer go anywhere quickly, as John Force (near lane) and Matt Hagan (far lane), had a tire-smoking duel that saw 7- and 8-second clocking adorning the scoreboards. Speeds weren't even into triple digits either. And that was it for Funny Car qualifying.


PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #3 (final)

PRO - Erica Enders --- PRO - Jeg Coughlin Jr.

(LEFT) Running in the second to last pairing of Pro Stock qualifying, Erica Enders made her best run of the event, racking up a 6.554 - 208.33 to hold on to the #2 position in the field.

(RIGHT) Closing out qualifying was the most dominating car in the class (so far) in 2020, as Jeg Coughlin Jr. slowed slightly from his top qualifying 6.536, with a best of the session 6.553 time. That run kept his streak alive, as he has run low e.t. of every qualifying session this session (seven) and every elimination round (four) to this point. An amazing performance from the JEG's team.


TOP FUEL HARLEY - Qualifying Session #3 (final)

TFH - Mike Scott --- TFH - Randal Andras

(LEFT) As the final session of Top Fuel Harley qualifying began, the staging lanes were less than full, as only six of the eight entrants were in line. And up to this point, there hadn't been very many competitive passes made by the bikes, and Calgary AB's Mike Scott failed to put a decent number on the boards for the third time as his 9-second pass left him in the #7 spot in the 8-bike field.

(RIGHT) In the last qualifying pair, #1 qualified Randal Andras lost power early and coasted to a 9-second clocking, while Ricky House (not shown) took over the top spot with low e.t. of the weekend at 6.285 - 226.22.


The latest update as of February 22, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

We've received the first batch of photos from "Big" Bob Snyder as he documents the 36th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ. Leading off the PRO qualifying on Friday were the Top Fuel Harleys, followed by the Pro Stock cars, the fuel Funny Cars, and finally, Top Fuel.


TOP FUEL HARLEY & PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #1


TFH - Tii Tharpe --- PRO - Jason Line

(LEFT) Leading off our race coverage is a hard launch by defending world champion in Top Fuel Harley, Tii Tharpe who's first competition pass of the season saw a quick loss of traction and a 10-second timeslip. (RIGHT) Making the second start of his "farewell" tour is KB Racing's Jason Line who carded a 6.619 - 208.01 on his first qualifier, only good enough for the #11 position.


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #1


FC - Jeff Diehl --- FC - Jim Campbell

(LEFT) First out of the waterbox in the opening qualifying session for FUNNY CAR was Jeff Diehl in his flat-black "RATT" sponsored car. He shut off before the 330' mark and coasted to a 6.987 - 94.65 clocking. (RIGHT) In the second pair of the round, the new (second race) Jim Dunn car driven by Jim Campbell to an almost as slow 6.707 - 98.77 time.

FC - Terry Haddock --- FC - Cruz Pedregon

(LEFT) Making an early appearance at this event, the never-say-die Terry Haddock made the field with a very early shutoff 5.612 - 125.56 pass. With only 16 cars in the pits, that guaranteed him a spot in eliminations.

(RIGHT) Wrapped in a new 100-year anniversary scheme, Cruz Pedregon put down a good opening number of 3.962 - 323.74 running alongside Bob Tasca III (not shown) who also ran well for the first side-by-side 3-second pass of qualifying.

FC - Paul Lee --- FC - Tim Wilkerson

(LEFT) With a full season of competiton on his agenda in 2020, Paul Lee ran hard to the 660' clocks, then got off the throttle as the car headed to the wall, and put up a 4.257 - 210.37 pass to start his weekend. (RIGHT) Showcasing an anniversary-themed wrap, Tim Wilkerson took over the early pole position with a good 3.934 at an early shutoff 307.72 mph.

FC - Tommy Johnson Jr. --- FC - Alexis DeJoria

(LEFT) With four 3-second passes recorded from the first four pairs of cars, Tommy Johnson Jr. upped the ante slightly with a 3.9145 - 324.12, while Robert Hight (not shown) ran the first "80" of the weekend, laying down a 3.867 - 330.55 to serve notice that he was ready to rumble.

(RIGHT) Another pair of 3-second runs followed, with returning veteran Alexis DeJoria putting down a consistent 3.972 - 325.30 time for the #8 position, while Matt Hagan (not shown) took over the #2 spot with a 3.882 - 324.75 pass.

FC - Jack Beckman --- FC - John Force

(LEFT) Closing out the first qualifying session, Jack Beckman (seen here on the burnout) smoked the tires early and coasted to a 6.511 - 107.15 pass. (RIGHT) His opponent, John Force lost traction at almost the same point, but headed for the wall before he stopped the clocks at a slightly better (less worse) time of 5.120 - 144.80.


TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #1


TF - Terry Totten --- TF - Scott Palmer

(LEFT) Top Fuel qualifying opened with two single runs, led off by Terry Totten in Don Sosenka's "Mr. Magoo" car. Totten made a respectable pass, stopping the clocks at 4.126 - 269.08 to open the proceedings. (RIGHT) Next up and sporting a "stealth" black look with his new car, Scott Palmer had a run to forget as he launched on 7-cylinders and clicked it early to a 4.659 - 165.13.

TF Steve Torrence (left) - 
Billy Torrence (right) --- Torrence vs Torrence scoreboards

(LEFT) Making their season debut after skipping the Winternationals, Team Torrence came up together, and Steve (left side), outran Billy (right side) by two thousandths of a second, despite a slower speed (316.36 to 324.36). (RIGHT) The scoreboards tell the tale, with Steve's #1 qualifying 3.743 on the right side, and Billy's #2 qualifying 3.745 on the left.

TF - Billy Torrence --- TF - Antron Brown

(LEFT) Here's a closer look at Billy Torrence as he launches hard on his first competition pass of the 2020 season. (RIGHT) After a completely forgettable season opener in Pomona, Antron Brown had another off-pace pass at 11.189 - 66.17 to start his weekend on a sour note.

TF - Shawn Langdon --- TF - Shawn Reed

(LEFT) The gremlins continued to haunt Shawn Langdon in his return to Top Fuel. After a good first day at the Winternationals, he failed to get off the starting line on his last two qualifying attempts, then limped to a 6-second first round loss. Things didn't get any better here as his 5.993 effort showed that the problems were continuing for the DHL team.

(RIGHT) Shawn Reed 3.795 - 318.62

TF - Leah Pruett

Leah Pruett 4.096 - 214.96


Wheelstander & PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #2


Little Red Fire Truck --- PRO - Jeg Coughlin Jr.

(LEFT) The Little Red Fire Truck owned and driven by Mike Mantel

(RIGHT) Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6.536 - 208.46


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #2


FC - Jack Beckman --- FC - Ron Capps

(LEFT) Jack Beckman 3.889 - 329.42

(RIGHT) Ron Capps 3.953 - 326.40

FC - Paul Lee --- FC - Blake Alexander

(LEFT) Paul Lee 4.640 - 172.30

(RIGHT) Blake Alexander 6.672 - 93.91

FC - Bob Tasca III --- FC - Matt Hagan

(LEFT) Bob Tasca III 3.883 - 328.86

(RIGHT) Matt Hagan 3.859 - 331.81

FC - Robert Hight

Robert Hight 5.760 - 118.47


TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2


TF - Terry McMillen --- TF - Clay Millican

(LEFT) Terry McMillen 3.696 - 326.79

(RIGHT) Clay Millican 3.772 - 319.14

TF - Austin Prock --- TF - Jim Maroney

(LEFT) Austin Prock 3.775 - 314.24

(RIGHT) Jim Maroney 4.129 - 227.00

TF - Justin Ashley --- TF - Leah Pruett

(LEFT) Justin Ashley 3.758 - 315.64

(RIGHT) Leah Pruett 3.680 - 328.06

TF - Brittany Force

Brittany Force 3.680 - 331.12

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The latest update as of February 21, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

We're working on yesterday's pit photos and they'll be up this afternoon. The first PRO qualifying session is on tap for 1:45 (MST) and the second at 5:15 (MST) this afternoon. Catch all the action live on NHRA.TV or watch the second PRO qualifying session on Fox Sports Racing at 8:00 PM (PST) on a tape-delayed basis.

--- Doug Foley --- John Force FC

(LEFT) A smiling Doug Foley marks his return to the NHRA Mello Yello "Big Show" by showing off his new "Hero" cards that feature one of Bob Snyder's photos on the front
(RIGHT) The 19-time champion (John Force) is ready to rock and make another charge at the title held by teammate Robert Hight

Nitro Alley --- Justin Ashley TF

(LEFT) "Nitro Alley" A sea of big rigs, race cars and rental cars as far as the eye can see
(RIGHT) Justin Ashley's pit area as they prep the "Strutmaster" Top Fuel car

--- Tommy Johnson Jr.

(LEFT) Bob Tasca III brought two trailers full of cars and parts ready to race hard
(RIGHT) Tommy Johnson Jr.'s trailer with a short block getting readied on the tailgate

Antron Brown TF --- Ron Capps FC

(LEFT) Antron Brown's pit area as the new team co-owner moves into a new role in Top Fuel
(RIGHT) A rejuvenated Ron Capps Funny Car after the devastating trailer fire enroute to pre-season testing

Brittany Force TF --- John Force FC

(LEFT) Brittany Force's pit area as her dad (J. Force) surveys the new sponsorship wrap of "Flav-R-Pac"
(RIGHT) The John Force Funny Car pit area with the crew hard at work prepping for another national event

John Force FC --- Alexis DeJoria FC

(LEFT) Here's the 2020 version of John Force's "Blue DEF" Funny Car
(RIGHT) Alexis DeJoria A smiling crewman stands behind returning veteran Alex DeJoria's new ROKIT - ABK Funny Car

Doug Kalitta TF --- Terry Haddock FC

(LEFT) It's quiet in Doug Kalitta's pit area as a couple of crew members inspect some parts at the far end
(RIGHT) Beside Terry Haddock's trailer, his new flat-black "Strutmasters" Funny Car sits waiting to be mounted

Jim Maroney TF --- Mark Howard FC

(LEFT) The crew of local racer Jim Maroney prep the Top Fuel car under the guidance of nitro guru Johnny West (extreme left)

(RIGHT)

Mark Howard FC --- Terry Totten TF

(LEFT) It's the Mark Howard fuel Funny Car being worked on by "Mr. Magoo" Don Sosenka
(RIGHT) The Top Fuel car of Terry Totten

Terry McMillen TF --- Brittany Force TF

(LEFT) The latest version of Terry McMillen's "Insta-Gator" is up on the stands
(RIGHT) The Monster Energy body panels and front wing of Brittany Force sits on the tailgate waiting to be reinstalled for the next race

Jim Campbell FC --- Top Sportsman

(LEFT) The "Cattleman's Cut" awning indicates that it's the Jim Dunn-owned Funny Car of Jim Campbell
(RIGHT) It's a tough looking Top Sportsman Chevy truck owned by Will Robinson awaiting tech inspection. BAD news: the bellhousing failed (two years out of date)

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The latest update as of February 20, 2020

PRO Winter WarmUp logo --- FC - Terry Totten

Showing off their newly minted nitro Funny Car, the Terry Totten team sets about trying to crossgrade Terry's fuel license to run Funny Car. Meanwhile, Joey Haas is trying to upgrade his license in Terry's Top Fuel car.

TF - Steve Torrence --- TF - Billy Torrence

(LEFT) Steve Torrence (RIGHT) Billy Torrence

FC - Bob Tasca III --- FC - Blake Alexander

(LEFT) Bob Tasca III (RIGHT) Blake Alexander

TF - Doug Foley --- TF - Joey Haas

(LEFT) Doug Foley (RIGHT) Joey Haas in Terry Totten's car

FC - Cruz Pedregon --- TAFC - Terry Ruckman

(LEFT) Cruz Pedregon (RIGHT) Terry Ruckman

TFH - Jay Turner --- TF - Scott Palmer

(LEFT) Jay Turner (RIGHT) Scott Palmer

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The latest update as of February 17, 2020


2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

We've just received credentials for "Big" Bob Snyder to attend the second event on the NHRA Mello Yello schedule, the Arizona Nationals at Phoenix's Wild Horse Motorsports Park. He's well on the road to recovery from his recent health setbacks and thankfully, the trip to Wild Horse is as short as they come for the intrepid long-distance road warrior. He thinks nothing of hopping in his van and driving 1500 miles (almost non-stop) to events in Texas, so this race will literally be just around the corner for him.

Bob's already been to Wild Horse this year for the annual pro test session and his photos from that weekend (one week before the Winternationals) have appeared at SpeedZone Magazine. Check them out and stay tuned for our reports and his photos this coming weekend from Phoenix. Next up for our event coverage is the Good Vibrations March Meet at Bakersfield's AutoClub Famoso Raceway in just a few weeks (March 5 -8). Bob's got credentials for that race too so we'll be able to bring you more photos and reports to kick off the NHRA Heritage Series season.

As always: STAY TUNED! It's going to be a busy time here at Northern Thunder in 2020, our 21st year on the world-wide web. What's a long strange trip it's been... but best of all, it's still continuing!


The latest update as of February 5, 2020


2020 Good Vibrations March Meet logo

Even though the NHRA Winternationals is on deck, starting tomorrow morning at Pomona's Auto Club Raceway, and followed two weeks later by the Arizona Nationals at Phoenix's Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, we're jumping ahead to the famed and fabulous Good Vibrations March Meet. It's one of the premiere events on the NHRA Heritage Series schedule, and this year's edition should be another barn-burner. If you can't be there in person, then check out our reports and photos, coming from our photographer "Big" Bob Snyder.

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To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page

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